Smarter Business: Green Building

Photo of NRDC's Energy Efficient New York Office
Our New York office takes advantage of natural light to save energy.
Photos and details

Photo of NRDC's Energy Efficient Washington, D.C. Office
Sustainable furnishings in the D.C. office were carefully selected for recycled content, regional availability, and Greenguard certification.
Photo Tour
Photo of NRDC's Energy Efficient Santa Monica Office

In Santa Monica, rooftop solar panels create 20 percent of our electricity.
Guided Tour | Resources

Photo of NRDC's Energy Efficient San Francisco Office

NRDC's San Francisco office hit the gold standard in green design -- for no extra $$.
Photos and details

NRDC began renovating the first of its offices in 1988, with the goal of putting our environmental principles into practice. Since then, NRDC has incorporated green design features into each of our four offices, in New York, San Francisco, Santa Monica and Washington, DC. Thousands of visitors, including design professionals and policymakers from around the world, have toured NRDC's offices to study their environmental design features.

Since NRDC's New York office opened, major strides have been made in green design, yet it remains a model of energy efficiency. We chose our office space, the top three floors of a 12-story Art Deco building in a neighborhood with few skyscrapers, for its abundance of natural light. Using a combination of this free-flowing -- and free -- resource and energy-efficient technologies, we have cut our energy consumption by 70 percent compared to conventional offices.

Our state-of-the-art Washington office, which opened in July 2011, brings the outside in, with a living green wall providing a vibrant focal point. An open-perimeter space maximizes airflow and daylight, giving 94 percent of seated spaces a direct line of sight to exterior windows. The office boasts significant energy savings per person over a typical code-compliant office building, including a 26 percent lower lighting load.

NRDC's Santa Monica office opened in November 2003, and is at the forefront of green building design in the United States. We purposely chose a downtown location to take advantage of existing services, such as transit and land that had already been developed, and we redesigned the building to conserve water and energy and to showcase environmentally sound materials, adding an environmental learning center on the ground floor.

Our San Francisco office renovation began with a commitment to create an airy, energy-efficient and healthy environment without paying higher than market-rate construction costs. The resulting office is a showcase of renewable materials and energy-efficient solutions. What's more, nearly 75 percent of the waste generated by demolition and construction was kept out of landfills, either through re-use or recycling. And we met our goal: the project didn't cost any more than a traditional renovation.

Environmental benefits of NRDC's green offices

Currently, NRDC's green offices save over 350,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. This translates to annual pollution reductions of:

  • 450,000 pounds of carbon dioxide
  • 4,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide
  • 1,500 pounds of nitrogen oxides

Since beginning the greening of our offices, we've achieved savings of over 2 million kilowatt-hours, or:

  • 5 million pounds of carbon dioxide
  • 35,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide
  • 15,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides

We've also made economic gains; here's how they stack up:

  • current annual operating cost savings of $65,000
  • savings in operating costs of $650,000 in ten years
  • energy savings of more than $1 per square foot from 1993 to 2003

If all U.S. commercial buildings were as efficient as NRDC's offices, we could:

  • reduce annual energy consumption nationally by over 100,000 megawatts -- enough to power the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, and Houston. This would avoid the need for almost 300 large power plants.
  • meet most of the United States' carbon dioxide emissions reductions commitments made under the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to curb global warming gases.

For a nonvirtual tour of our New York City, Santa Monica, or Washington, D.C. office, contact us at with your name, email address and telephone number. Please indicate which office you would like to visit.

NRDC's Green Offices
Overview | New York | Washington, DC | Chicago | Santa Monica | San Francisco | Beijing

last revised 12/3/2003

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