Case Study 1

CASE STUDY 1: Adobe Towers, San Jose

Case study adapted from: Adobe Systems Incorporated: Three Platinum Certified Green Buildings, Adobe Systems internal report by George Denise, December 2006. Beginning in 2001, Adobe Systems partnered with Cushman and Wakefield, a commercial real estate and services firm, to spearhead energy efficiency upgrades and produce highly sustainable returns.

Adobe’s headquarters consist of three high-rise office buildings located in downtown San Jose, California: East, West and Almaden Towers enclosing 325,421 ft2, 391,339 ft2 and 272,598 ft2 respectively. Combined, they total 989,358 square feet of office space, resting atop 938,473 square feet of enclosed parking.

From 2001–2004, Adobe undertook 30 energy conservation and related projects. They spent $888,912, earned rebates of $277,092 and reduced annual operating costs by $647,747, for a return on investment of 106%.


In 2002, Cushman and Wakefield requested that all of its managers benchmark their properties with the EPA Energy Star® program. In 2004, following the labeling of all three buildings as Energy Star® compliant, the Adobe facilities team began the process of certifying the Towers as Green Buildings with the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Adobe began the LEED certification process in mid-2005. From 2005–2006 Adobe completed 64 energy conservation and related projects, reducing annual operating costs by $1.2 million. These upgrades cost Adobe approximately $1.4 million, $389,000 of which was recovered in rebates from local and state agencies, for an impressive return on investment of 121% (a nine-month payback).

All three Adobe campus buildings—East, West and Almaden—have achieved LEED Green Building certifications with Platinum ratings, the highest rating possible. Additionally, Adobe has earned the EPA Energy Star® label for each of its three buildings, with scores of 78, 84 and 87 (on a scale of 100). The impressive financial returns from Adobe’s energy efficiency returns are matched by notable environmental improvements. Since upgrading the energy efficiency of its campus buildings, Adobe has made significant reductions to its environmental footprint in the following areas:

• 16% reduction in CO2 emissions
• 35% electricity savings per occupant
• 41% natural gas savings per occupant

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