Vons Credit Union Becomes First LEED® Gold-Certified Private Building in El Monte, CA

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The credit union continues to lead the way for sustainability with LEED Gold certification and the addition of a 144-panel solar carport

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Vons Credit Union (VCU) announced today that it has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the USGBC’s leading rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient and high-performing buildings, and verifies environmental performance, occupant health and financial return. LEED was established for market leaders to design & construct buildings that protect and save precious resources while also making good economic sense.

Steve Weakley, Vons Credit Union CEO, explained that the pursuit of the LEED Gold achievement was a natural next step in the credit union’s quest to bring sustainable practices to its environment, members and employees. “We believe that whatever space you have on this planet, it is up to you to decide how to take care of it,” Weakley said. “At Vons Credit Union, we are committed to our membership and to our planet,” he continued. “We believe that we should work to make California a better and cleaner place while being a responsible corporate partner. Safeway and Unified Grocers, our key sponsors, are also very committed to sustainability.”

Weakley added that solar panels were the centerpiece of their efforts to obtain LEED certification because of the benefits of solar panels to the environment as well as their high return on investment. In 2011, Vons Credit Union added a 144-panel carport solar system to its existing 280-panel rooftop one, which, collectively, will lower VCU’s electricity bills by more than half.

“The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy, and threats to human health,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The work of innovative building projects such as Vons Credit Union’s is a fundamental driving force in the green building movement.”

Geoff Tomlinson, LEED AP and President of Vaha Sustainable Energy, who designed both solar power systems and assisted VCU in obtaining LEED Gold certification, said that the VCU LEED team focused on the points that best addressed VCU’s goals for operational best practices and occupant comfort as well as energy and water savings. “The team’s goal was to achieve LEED certification for energy use, water and material use as well as to incorporate a variety of other sustainable strategies, such as composting, advanced recycling and green cleaning agents and methods,” he explained.

Vons Credit Union’s LEED Gold certification was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. These features include waterless urinals and dual-flush valves for water efficiency, solar panels for energy efficiency and clean power, composting and advanced recycling for waste diversification from landfills, eco-friendly cleaning agents and techniques, computerized thermostats as well as eco-friendly consumable, such as paper, ink and carpeting, that support sustainability.

Vons Credit Union will celebrate their LEED Gold certification in August with an event at which the USGBC’s Los Angeles Chapter Executive Director, Dr. Jorge Partida, will present a plaque to the organization to commemorate this milestone. In addition, at their monthly city council meeting on July 31, the City of El Monte will recognize Vons Credit Union for its environmental commitment to the community.

About Vons Credit Union: Vons Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial institution that has served the employees and families of Vons Grocery Stores, Unified Grocers, and the San Gabriel Valley community for more than 58 years. Since its founding in 1954, Vons Credit Union has grown to more than 40,000 members with more than $387 million in assets and $77 million in capital. Recently, VCU was ranked among the top one percent of credit unions in the nation and has held consecutive top financial honors from Weiss Rating and Bauer Financial. Throughout the years, with its financial strength and commitment to its community, Vons Credit Union has been able to help its members build strong financial futures, one member at a time. To learn more, visit http://www.vonscu.com.

About the U.S. Green Building Council: The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit membership organization whose vision is a sustainably built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies and other non-profit organizations. Since UGSBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 17,000 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building rating systems, an expansive educational offering, the industry’s popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (http://www.greenbuildexpo.org), and a network of 78 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups. For more information, visit http://www.usgbc.org.

About LEED®: The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating SystemTM is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The six major environmental categories of review include: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of LEED green building certification are awarded based on the total number of points earned within each LEED category. LEED can be applied to all building types, including new construction, commercial interiors, core and shell developments, existing buildings, homes, neighborhood developments, schools and retail facilities. LEED for Healthcare is currently under development and is expected to be released in early 2008.
Incentives for LEED are available at the state and local level, and LEED has also been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies. For more information, visit http://www.usgbc.org/LEED.

About Vaha Sustainable Energy: Vaha Sustainable Energy, (Vaha) is a money savings and energy optimization company whose purpose is to lower the operational costs of their clients and increase their bottom line through energy efficiency best practices and renewable energies. Vaha understands that energy, finances and the environment are competing forces that every company must balance. Vaha specializes in using solar power systems, energy consulting and LEED certification to help its clients achieve that balance, while maximizing their savings and ROI in the most sustainable way. For more information, visit vahaenergy.com

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Gaye Tomlinson
Vaha Sustainable Energy
(949) 419-6422
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