It's not easy being green; it's even tougher going Platinum. But that didn't deter IGS Energy, whose Dublin headquarters received Platinum certification, the highest possible Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. Completed in 2010, the 104,500-square-foot building at 6100 Emerald Parkway is the largest Platinum-certified commercial office project in the state--and the only one in Central Ohio.

Achieving energy savings was of particular interest to IGS, which bills itself as the nation's largest independent retail supplier of natural gas. Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly elements include insulated glass windows, sensor-controlled lighting, and solar panels that reduce the building's electric utility costs by 7.5 percent.

IGS President Scott White says the building earned all 10 of the LEED energy points available: "We tried to do all the points that made sense, and we were fortunate to end up at Platinum." Overall, White says, the IGS HQ uses roughly half the energy of a conventional facility.

The whole kit and caboodle--from the 16-acre parcel to employees' thin client desktop computers, which shift computing power onto a shared server, use just 20 percent as much power as traditional computers and give off less heat--cost about $29 million. White says that's a 10 percent to 12 percent premium over the cost of a similarly sized and furnished conventional building.

Why spend the extra dollars? "A good portion of the premium will be returned to us in the form of reduced energy costs," White says. "But the other benefit that we got from the building was a dramatically improved work environment, and it was a way of telling our employees that we care about their work environment."

Maintaining Platinum status is an ongoing project. For instance, IGS is using compostable trays, cups and plates in its corporate cafeteria and has hired a green-certified cleaning service. "Our core philosophy isn't going to change over time," says White.

Reprinted from the August 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.