Friday, October 8, 2010

Interview with Randy Knox, Director of Global Workplace Solutions and Head of Environmental Programs at Adobe

I always want to know what Randy Knox is up to on the sustainability front. He has been instrumental in seeing that Adobe stays on top of energy savings, stakeholder engagement and the latest green technology. Here's where his head is today...

Q: What would you say are current “trends” when it comes to organizations adopting green strategies or principles?
A: I think the trend is companies continuing to pursue LEED certifications, which are at an all time high. In addition, companies like Adobe who have facilities that are already LEED certified are beginning to think “beyond LEED.” At Adobe, we continue our quest to lower our energy requirements. For example, in our downtown San Jose headquarters we have just completed the installation of 12 fuel cells. These fuel cells will be fueled with renewable methane gas making the electrical energy generated on site 100 percent renewable and carbon neutral. We expect the fuel cells to produce up to 30 percent of the power required by our three office towers in San Jose.

We also recently installed 20 Windspire vertical wind turbines. And last year, we completed installation of the Optimum Loop technology in one of our three office towers. The Optimum Loop controls all of the equipment in a building’s chilled water loop with the sole goal of reducing the amount of power that the chiller requires. The chiller is the single largest energy hog in the operation of a building.

Q: How have recent legislation or corporate/federal mandates changed the way your organization addresses environmental issues?
A: Adobe has always had a strong sense of environmental stewardship. As such, we have tackled environmental issues from the start and continue to do so today. While I think that recent legislation and pending legislation will move more corporations to do the right thing, Adobe is well ahead of the curve as this has always been part of the company’s core values.

Q: What green / sustainability-related project are you working on now that you are most proud of?
A: I am most proud of the way Adobe executive leadership has supported these efforts to date and have allowed us to be a leader in this field. We’ve done so many projects both large and small that I am proud of, but I would have to point to the fuel cells as our most recent and perhaps proudest moment overall.

Q: What has inhibited you or your organization from making more progress on the sustainability front?
A: We have received so much support from the Adobe executive team and individual employees in response to our efforts to make our facilities more sustainable. More to the fact, we are constantly challenged by our employees to do more. The only general limitation is time and resources -- two common challenges most everyone can relate to in some capacity.

Q: What advice would you give others in your position trying to make a difference for the environment?
A: Know you ARE doing the RIGHT thing and that there is money to be saved in time. Also, start with the low hanging fruit. I know that this is an over-used phrase, but it does have its place here. It helps facility operators build a history of performance and trust that will allow larger projects to be approved. As an example, many of our early projects cost us next to nothing to implement -- things like de-lamping in some areas and installation of compact fluorescent lights in others. Our most recent project, the fuel cells, obviously required an upfront investment, and gaining that approval was based on years of proven performance.

Q: What is your favorite source for sustainability/environmental trends or information?
A: While there are many great sources and resources available right now, personally, I get the most from my relationship with Sustainability Roundtable, Inc., based in Cambridge, MA.


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