By Brenda Reyes
If moving a family to a new house (and all the packing it takes) is quite the experience, imagine moving from where you have worked for the past decade along with almost 60 co-workers! About three months ago, our Caribbean Environmental Protection Division moved to a new location in City View Plaza, in my hometown of Guaynabo. The best part for me and some coworkers is being five minutes from home (without any traffic), the hardest part was getting used to a larger office space. Gone are the days when it took me about eight steps to reach the Deputy Director’s office. Our new office space is 21,000 square meters and boasts green features to lower environmental impact.
The bathrooms have high-efficiency faucets and low flush toilets to help reduce the amount of water consumed by almost 40% compared to standard faucets and toilets and to reduce the burden on drinking water and wastewater systems. All wood used in the office space is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood or wood that has been reused to reduce materials consumption. Infrared and motion sensors have been installed in the conference rooms, office spaces, open spaces and even in the modular desk task lights. These sensors ensure that lights are on only when the room is occupied, reducing energy consumption. Furthermore, large high-efficiency tinted windows allow for natural light to provide illumination in the perimeter around the office and in the reception area-where a native Blue Mahoe desk presides over the area. In my case those large windows provide me with a view from the San Juan Bay, El Morro Fort and the Cataño area. The view is truly breathtaking!
All carpets used in the office are made of about 30% recycled material and are 100% recyclable. They also do not contain toxic chemicals found in conventional carpets. Low VOC paint was used in the new space. Also, a high efficiency HVAC system not only saves on energy, but also has a special filter that will remove almost all particulate matter from the space. All computer equipment in the office was purchased using the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool and all appliances in the lunch room are Energy Star. We also have bike racks for those who wish to pedal their way in and out of the office and we are on the bus route. While we have not heard from the U.S. Green Building Council yet, EPA applied for the LEED certification for this new office space.
Three months have gone by and with each passing day I come to see this new space as a true example of sustainability in action.