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Green initiatives run the gamut from plain old recycling to complete construction projects

Businesses find going green can mean many things

Mississippi businesses are finding that “going green” can range from office recycling programs to construction of the office itself.

An example is the Butler Snow law offices in Jackson. Its green initiatives include waste recycling, changes to the information technology (IT) system to save energy and reduce paper use and construction of a new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building.

Early on, Butler Snow adopted electronic document management in its law practice. The firm has been recognized for its leadership in this arena.

“With the innovative IT approach we’ve taken, we now conduct mainly paperless transactions,” said Butler Snow IT director Ken Jones. “The firm has reduced the amount of servers needed through server virtualization, consolidated data storage, maximized servers and the designed data centers with state-of-the-art cooling systems that use less power.”

What used to exist in four server racks now exists in one due to server virtualization. What formerly required upwards of 45 servers can now be done with six.

“It is remarkable how much energy can be saved utilizing these technologies, and all the while providing more redundancy in our network, reducing the risk of outages or other problems that can occur,” Jones said.

The commitment Butler Snow makes to its clients extends to the preservation of the environment in which it practices, said Grace Tate, attorney for Butler Snow’s Banking, Real Estate and Financial Services Group.

“As a firm, we also understand the global climate impacts every aspect of our business and our clients’ business,” Tate said. “The firm hopes to lead by example. Each office has a recycling program for paper, plastics and other recyclable materials and employees are encouraged to reduce waste.”

Tate said Butler Snow’s transition to becoming a green firm has been quite rewarding. It has afforded the opportunity to play an active role in bettering the environment.

“And, most importantly, initiatives like our file digitization has allowed us to serve our clients more effectively,” Tate said.

The law firm’s new office building in Ridgeland will be LEED Silver Certified, the largest certified high-rise office building in the State of Mississippi.

“In fact, when the firm renovated our space in Memphis in 2007, Butler Snow became the first law firm in the Southeast to register for LEED certification,” Tate said. “The Ridgeland building is designed to minimize energy use and environmental impact, with energy-conserving lighting systems, use of natural light, low-water-use hardware and natural materials.”

Butler Snow is by no means alone in Mississippi businesses constructing new buildings in a manner to be eligible for LEED certification, a program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

Mississippi has five certified projects at this time, and another 50 projects are listed as registered, said Perry Richardson, an architect with Canizaro Cawthon Davis Architects, Jackson, who is president of the Mississippi Chapter of the USGBC.

“Registered means that the project certification process has been started, but is not complete,” Richardson said. “At this time, I do not know the projected value of the registered projects, but in a recent report it seemed that $788 million is the estimated cost of projects on the registered list.”

With the current decline in the economy, some projects are likely to be on hold. Still, that is a significant number of green building projects.

More information on Mississippi projects can be found at www.usgbc.org/LEED/Project/RegisteredProjectList.aspx

The growing popularity of green building, which can save owners money in the long run due to energy savings, has led to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Mississippi putting in place a Green Contractor Certification education program. Since January, a dozen contractors have been certified, and another 30 to 40 are in the process.

“It is something we are really excited about,” said Jason Phelps, director of workforce development and education for ABC of Mississippi. “In a nutshell, this past March we formed a green building committee here at the chapter to set out a program to put in place for our members. It starts out with education and includes recognition.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at 4becky@cox.net.

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