PepsiCo’s (NYSE: PEP – News) downtown Chicago corporate plaza received the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

PepsiCo’s Chicago Plaza office earned recognition for reducing energy use by 10 percent in less than a year, cutting water to 37 percent below Energy Policy Act performance standards, and eliminating almost 226 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions through energy saving programs. Building on PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose” sustainability vision to improve environmental, social, and economic aspects for a better tomorrow, this certification reinforces the company’s commitment to reduce the impact of its businesses on the environment.

“Our LEED certification is a tremendous

As an employee-established environmental committee, the PepsiCo Green Chicago Team focused on four critical elements in the large-scale effort to obtain LEED certification:

— Energy savings — The Green Team was able to keep all employees engaged and aware of their daily energy use through employee-nominated floor leaders;

— Waste reduction — Monthly contests were held that pit each of the 16 floors against each other in competition to reduce waste and both winners and losers were announced internally;

— Recycling — A formal recycling program was also started that focused on recycling 100 percent of the recyclable glass, paper, plastic, cardboard, batteries, printer/fax cartridges, and light bulbs discarded in the Chicago Plaza’s refuse bins. The program has diverted 70 percent of the Chicago Plaza’s solid waste to recycling centers so that it can be beneficially recycled and reused instead of being disposed in local municipal landfills;

— Air quality — The Plaza replaced all janitorial and cleaning products with alternative cleaning products that meet the USGBC’s stringent Sustainable Cleaning Products and Materials standards and improved the building’s HVAC system to be more efficient.

“Our goal in the beginning was to shift the cultural perspective and instill a sense of environmental responsibility,” says Meagan Smith, marketing manager, Quaker Foods & Snacks and Green Team co-founder.

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