Chapel Hill, N.C.  – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) today broke ground on an environmentally friendly building that will use 65 percent less energy and half the water per square foot of the company’s traditional office space.
The five-story building, which will include a six-level parking deck, is being built across the street from the company’s Customer Service Center on Ivy Creek Boulevard in Durham. The energy savings will be enough to power about 100 typical households(1).  The amount of water saved will be enough to supply more than 10 local homes(2).
“With this new building, we’re making environmental stewardship a central business practice,” said BCBSNC President and CEO Bob Greczyn. “This is more than a green coat of paint; we’re committed to setting a standard for others to follow.”
The building, which will house about 550 BCBSNC employees, will increase company efficiency by consolidating some business units that are now in separate buildings. It will save water and energy through features that include:
• Efficient light fixtures and use of natural light
• Water- and energy-conserving heating and air conditioning systems
• Use of captured rain water for toilets and air conditioning
• Drought resistant plants and landscaping
Up to 20 percent of the materials used in construction will be recycled, particularly in masonry, countertops and other interior finishes, and the parking area. The most convenient parking spaces, accounting for 10 percent of the overall parking, will be reserved for carpoolers and energy-efficient vehicles. The structure will also have weather-protected racks for more than 50 bicycles. By joining related functions that had previously been physically separated, the building will encourage carpooling and help employees save energy costs previously spent traveling between buildings for meetings.
“With this new building, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is establishing a new threshold for businesses and governments in North Carolina with regards to energy and water efficiency,” said Larry Shirley, director of the State Energy Office. “Their leadership should inspire many others to incorporate sustainable features into their buildings that will result in lower operating costs while helping to preserve the environment.”
The 100,000-square-foot building – expected to be completed by next summer – is the centerpiece of a long-term effort to reduce the company’s environmental impact. BCBSNC has set corporate-wide goals to reduce its overall energy consumption by 25 percent and its water consumption by 20 percent by the end of 2010. The company is also in the process of establishing corporate-wide goals for a significant reduction in landfill-bound trash.
Companywide environmental practices include:
• Redesigning ventilation systems at all its major buildings to reduce water and electricity use.
• Installing water-saving plumbing fixtures.
• Using environmentally friendly cleaning products.
• Placing prominent recycling centers in all buildings.
• Along with current aggressive paper and cardboard recycling, expanding efforts to collect plastic, glass, aluminum and other materials.
The company is creating a sustainability project manual for all its building projects that includes requirements for use of recycled materials, proper disposal of construction debris and maximizing purchase of materials from regional sources.
When the company has several months’ worth of documented energy and water savings, as well as other demonstrated environmental protection measures, it intends to seek appropriate certification for the building under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The building is expected to cost about 3 percent more than traditional construction, but the company expects to recoup that cost within five years through energy savings and other conservation measures.
“North Carolina’s quality of life is one of our most valuable resources; there’s no replacing it if we lose it,” Greczyn said. “We’re ready to demonstrate that we can both thrive as a business and protect the state’s environment for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to nearly 3.6 million members, including approximately 825,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 75 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at
(1) Based on the average annual energy use of 87,500,000 BTU per year of a detached, single-family residence. (Source: The Cadmus Group, Inc., based on data from The Department of Energy and the National Climatic Data Center.)
(2)  Based on an average annual household water consumption of 61,538 gallons per year in the city of Durham.  Calculation made by BCBSNC from statistics from the city of Durham.