Building Green

OWC, a privately owned company, has invested more than $2 million to implement alternative renewable energy platforms. These funds came out of OWC’s long-term operating budget and the investment was partially supplemented with a grant from the state of Illinois. Utility bills in Illinois include a fee that goes into a fund to stimulate investment in alternative energy. The solar system in Woodstock was 76 percent self-funded by OWC while the remaining 24 percent was covered by a state grant. The wind turbine however, was 100 percent self-funded by OWC. The $2 million investment figure does not include the construction of our LEED® Platinum-certified headquarters facility in Woodstock.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. The LEED guidelines require adherence to a very specific set of specifications designed to reduce energy usage and waste removal. Following the LEED guidelines added approximately 35 percent to construction costs for the Woodstock building, a major commitment. But OWC believes in making those sorts of investments for the benefit of our environment. We began planning the building in 2007 and OWC is one of a very few private companies to achieve LEED Platinum certification.

Innovation In Design

The LEED standard ensures conservation at all stages of the building process, from energy-efficient use of the site to utilizing materials that are produced close to the construction site to reduce emissions in transport and construction. OWC also used environmentally sustainable, low volatile organic compound building materials.

The OWC headquarters uses a flat roof design, oriented for optimum solar gain, with a white thermoplastic coating. This reflective coating dramatically reduces cooling requirements and does not release any harmful toxins, unlike traditional roofs. The roof houses a complex daylight harvesting system to reduce lighting energy costs. The windows of the building are a pyrolytic glass to filter UV light and heat, while maximizing light intake, with a sunshade design to reduce summer heat gain.

OWC continues to upgrade existing buildings for even more energy efficiency, such as recently installing high-efficiency air-conditioning units in its Austin facility, as well as a special dual-reflective window film that blocks up to 66 percent of the sun’s heat.

LEED Construction of OWC Headquarters

Indoor Environment

The indoor environment at OWC is divided into zones to effectively manage the day-to-day comfort of our employees, while maximizing energy efficiency and reducing environmental burden. Air quality is managed by CO2 sensors which actively pump fresh air into areas where it’s required, but not to unoccupied zones, to reduce wasted energy.

Lighting is intelligently switched off in unoccupied zones by light sensors throughout the building, and supplemental light is provided by large, UV filtering windows. In the warehouse, multiple skylights utilize sensors that dim down or turn off electric lights as sunlight increases in the warehouse. Extremely efficient lights, comparable to LED levels of efficiency, are used throughout the building, while exterior lights have been switched to LED units.

Other features of the indoor environment include an in-house water filtration system that eliminates the need for delivered water, which reduces water and transportation costs and energy. The building’s cleaning crews are LEED certified, using naturally based solvents and biodegradable surfactants to avoid undesired chemicals.

Air quality is maintained by micron air filters and a UV sterilization system in the heat exchanger coils to remove or kill 99.9 percent of particulates and bacteria.

Results and Moving Forward

Out of more than 14,000 LEED projects engaged worldwide since the program's inception, OWC is one of less than 300 to achieve the Platinum standard. With this recognition, OWC also became the first privately owned light manufacturing/assembly building in Illinois to obtain LEED Platinum status.

In September 2010, OWC's headquarters earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR® rating for building operations that perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency. OWC continues to upgrade existing buildings for even more energy efficiency, such as installing high-efficiency air-conditioning units in its Austin facility, as well as special dual-reflective window film that blocks up to 66 percent of the sun’s heat. We will continue our mission of environmental stewardship to not only help our environment but also our customers, employees, community members and business partners.

Aerial view of OWC Headquarters in Woodstock IL.

OWC LEED Timeline

  1. 2006

    Plans for the new LEED building had come to a close and were revealed at the Other World Computing Christmas Party.

  2. June 2 2007

    The day of ground breaking.

  3. Dec. 2007

    Building under construction.

  4. Feb. 18, 2008

    Feb. 22, Building nears completion as occupancy date draws closer.

  5. March 9, 2008

    Warehouse/Order Fulfillment/Assembly operations transferred to new headquarters.

  6. April 4, 2008

    All OWC Departments and Staff now moved to new location. First time in about four years that the entire OWC team is under a single roof.

  7. May 19, 2008

    Other World Computing CEO Larry O’Connor, right, and OWC Logistics Manager Larry O’Connor raise the American flag for the first time at the new OWC corporate headquarters building. The flag, donated by an OWC staff member, was flown over the Pentagon shortly after 9/11.

  8. August 4, 2009

    The foundation is prepared as construction begins on a Vestas V 39, 3-Blade, 500kW Wind Turbine that will be able to generate approximately 1,250,000 kWh per year (kilowatt hours per year) - up to more than double the current energy requirements of all OWC operations, including the datacenter. Average wind speeds at the site are 10-15 mph, and the turbine is designed to produce power at wind speeds as low as 9 mph, with a blade housing that can rotate 360 degrees to best take advantage of wind conditions.

  9. October 2, 2009

    OWC staff members are invited to sign one of the Wind Turbine blades, delivered onsite and awaiting installation. Warehouse Operations Manager Ryan O'Connor adds his name to blade.

  10. October 19, 2009

    OWC becomes 100% on-site wind powered by switching its daily operations energy needs over to a Vestas V39-500 kW wind turbine. The turbine, at a height of 194 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade, is clearly visible miles away from the OWC campus. After OWC draws off the power it needs, excess energy produced is sold back to the local power provider, thus making OWC a net supplier of sustainable energy to the McHenry County, IL.

  11. March, 2010

    The Other World Computing corporate campus is awarded LEED Platinum Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute. Platinum is the highest achievable level of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Program, which began in 1998. Out of more than 14,000 LEED projects engaged worldwide since the program's inception, OWC is one of less than three hundred to achieve the Platinum standard. With this recognition, OWC also became the first privately owned light manufacturing/assembly building in Illinois to obtain LEED Platinum status.