A Long Way to Zero 

How LPL Financial achieved a new zero net energy (ZNE) office building through careful strategizing and the right partner. 

LPL Financial has plenty on its plate as the nation’s largest independent broker/dealer, an RIA custodian and an independent consultant to retirement plans. So creating simplicity, variety and efficiency where they can is important. 

 When the firm began designs for its new state-of-the-art office building in San Diego, LPL envisioned a zero net energy (ZNE) site—that is, a facility that generates as much on-site energy annually as is consumed. 

 The 13-floor, 415,000-square-foot office tower was driven by four strategies: energy efficiency, health and wellness of employees, connectivity, and flexibility. Architects had a vision, and designers had a desire for an efficient lighting system that felt comfortable for occupants, allowed for added savings through dimming and daylight harvesting, and could easily accommodate the changing needs of a growing business. 

 Zero net energy isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, and it requires a combination of strategies. So prior to a lighting solution, LPL Financial made several significant investments, including fuel cells for a consistent source of clean electricity and an under-floor air-distribution system to reduce heating and cooling loads. A sophisticated, efficient lighting system was next. “GE rolled up their sleeves and got to work,” said Otto Orr, V.P. of project management, corporate real estate, LPL Financial. “They flew to Charlotte and immediately got engaged with our engineering team—looking at sketches, switching from fluorescent, eliminating fixtures. I’ve never seen a supplier jump in like this.” 

 By analyzing architectural drawings, Current’s experts conceived a new lighting strategy that converted fluorescent fixtures to LED and further eliminated a number of them entirely, reducing total fixture count by nearly 40 percent. Lumination™ LED luminaires were chosen for common aisles and employee areas—the long, narrow bands of light were integrated within the ceiling to lend a clean, contemporary look to the space. 

 Orr explained that when it came to office lighting and controls, Current again simplified and streamlined what could have been a messy process. “We were actually looking at a fairly complex lighting control system that added a lot of cost to the project,” he said. “That’s when Current demonstrated a much simpler solution that met our needs. More importantly, when you have a project this size, typically you have a lighting supplier, a controls manufacturer and a project manager involved. 

With Current, it felt good to have all of that—a full lighting solution and a control package to go with it—all in one bucket. 

With Current’s LightSweep™ lighting control system and Aware™ occupancy sensors, LPL now enjoys dimming and daylight harvesting capabilities on every floor, zoned to allow individuals to make their own adjustments. LPL will save an estimated $38,000 annually in lighting energy costs with LED over fluorescent. Each floor of its San Diego tower is metered to measure HVAC and lighting electrical loads separately. This data, displayed on an LCD monitor in the main lobby, helps to make employees more informed about energy savings in the building. 

“We believe we are the country’s largest zero net energy commercial office building,” said Orr. “The passion was there, and now our group, including Current, drives it forward. This building shows our dedication to our employees and the environment—we created a net zero strategy that, when we look back, we’ll be proud to say our activities and outreach started here.” 

Interested in lowering energy costs for your commercial building? Contact Current to explore a solution that works best for you.