Aug 1, 2006

Even Adobe’s `green’ building was blindsided by the heat

Source: The Mercury News
Written by Katherine Conrad

Adobe Systems’s San Jose headquarters is one of the most energy-efficient campuses in the country. It’s so “green” that the software maker earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest marks for becoming a lean, mean, energy-conserving machine.

Yet the killer heat wave that rolled through Northern California last week almost brought the buildings to their knees. “It was so hot, that finally we thought, `Can we blow on this building to cool it down?’ ” said Ted Ludwick, Cushman & Wakefield’s assistant chief engineer for Adobe, on Wednesday.

Adobe has employed practically every high-tech energy-saving device known to reduce energy usage and consequently, its costs. The company has sprinklers that talk to weather satellites to determine if rain is predicted or if it’s time to water. A central system tracks lights and water usage to determine what can be turned off or down to save resources.

But at 2 p.m. Monday, July 24, the triple-digit heat was at its worst and Adobe had emptied its bag of tricks.

“We used more electricity than we ever had. We hit levels we weren’t supposed to hit for another five years,” Ludwick said. “We had no chiller left and we were running out of power. It was drastic. We thought, what do we have left?”

Finally, Ludwick noticed that everyone’s blinds were open and he said, “Let’s close them.”

It worked. “It got dark, but every little bit helps.” That simple step deflected the brutal afternoon sun and reduced the demand by 300 kilowatts. If it hadn’t, the company was prepared to send employees home and use its remaining energy to run the data centers.

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