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Bridgestone's Akron tech center is golden

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Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC's Americas Technical Center in Akron, Ohio, has earned LEED V3 (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification at the Gold level by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The center was built to LEED Gold specifications and was designed and constructed to have the highest performance in human and environmental health.

“The Americas Technical Center symbolizes our company’s environmental mission of ensuring a healthy environment for current and future generations,” says Tim Bent, director of environmental affairs for Bridgestone Americas. “Official certification is the final step in validating Bridgestone’s vision and goal for the center, which serves as the hub for Bridgestone’s focus on innovation.

"Efforts are underway across the country to create more environments like this, further realizing our sustainability mission.”

Sustainability features of the center that captured LEED Gold certification fall into the following categories: energy savings, water management, landscaping, personal well-being and walkability.

1. Energy savings

The building was digitally modeled with an energy simulator to identify exterior design shapes that minimize energy consumption. Locations of glass, sun screens, skylights and materials optimize energy savings.

Glass is eliminated on the southwest, or hot side, of the building. Reflective stainless panels reflect the hot sun saving the need for 24 tons of cooling.  A white roof reflects heat away from the building, lowering roof temperature by 50 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot day and saving 8% on energy costs.

Triple pane, custom tinted glass in conjunction with light reflecting shelves to let light in and bounce it off the ceiling, provides natural light. Office areas are equipped with sensors to turn the lights off when sufficient natural light is present. 

In the laboratory areas, a new innovative hood system was used to filter and recirculate air instead of venting it outside. Bridgestone purchased the first hood in the western hemisphere with this technology -- the center has 14 total hoods on site.

Concrete -- lighter than asphalt (and as a result able to absorb less of the sun’s energy) -- is used in lieu of asphalt on exterior areas requiring surfacing.

A high-tech VRF heating/cooling system designed to transfer heat within the building to areas that are too cool. The system then takes that cool air to areas that are too warm. 

These energy efficiency efforts have reduced Bridgestone’s carbon footprint by 82%, when compared to the old Bridgestone building.

2. Water management

Water usage reduction within the building is accomplished through low flow faucets, toilets, urinals and shower heads.

Outside the building no city water is used for the landscaping. Rain water from the roof is collected and piped to a 35,000 gallon cistern. Water is taken from the cistern for irrigation.

To control runoff, a four-story parking deck reduces the parking area footprint and saved approximately 30 mature trees. Water retention by the leaves of these trees and associated evapotranspiration reduces runoff by about 82,000 gallons a year.

Rain gardens collect runoff and allow the water to be filtered and absorbed into the soil on site. Parking areas are specially designed and planted with vegetation in “bioswales” to capture and treat runoff.

Vegetation on the 16,000-square-foot green roof absorbs water to minimize runoff, while helping moderate temperature.

3. Landscaping

Areas of the site are landscaped with native Ohio plants which do not need to be watered.

Much of the area around the building features native Ohio short grass prairie species, which also captures and holds rainwater.

4. Personal well-being

Natural light shines throughout the building to increase teammate productivity and reduce sick time

Private offices are located in the center of the building with hallways and staircases along the outside so all can see the outside foliage. In fact, the outdoors can be seen from every angle of the building.

State-of-the-art workout facility complete with locker rooms and showers to encourage teammate fitness.

Indoor area for bike storage to encourage riding to work.

Environmental education program -- tours of the building to various groups explain the design features as they relate to the environment.

5. Walkability

The center is surrounded by the Firestone Park neighborhood. Shaded stone walking paths encourage Bridgestone teammates to walk.

The Americas Technical Center is close to other Bridgestone facilities to encourage walking rather than driving.

Bridgestone opened its state-of-the-art center in April, 2012. The $100 million facility houses more than 450 teammates who develop innovative and advanced tire technologies for the company. The Akron facility is one of only three technical centers for Bridgestone worldwide; the other two are in Tokyo, Japan and Rome, Italy.

All of Bridgestone’s sustainability initiatives are aligned under the company’s One Team, One Planet sustainability platform. For additional information, visit BridgestoneAmericas.com.

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