Aitken Tells All on Productivity at Lockheed

Following the publication of our feature article “Productivity and Green Buildings” (see EBN

Vol. 13, No. 10), I received a letter from Donald Aitken, a highly respected green-building and renewable-energy consultant and a longtime friend. Don wrote to fill a gap in green-building lore and was kind enough to allow us to share his story with our readers. Lockheed confirmed Don’s story to Bill Browning as he gathered information for Greening the Building and the Bottom Line

(see EBN

Vol. 4, No. 3).

Green features such as daylighting in Lockheed’s Building 157 more than paid for themselves in the first year.

Credit: Leo A. Daly
In view of your fine article “Productivity and Green Buildings,” it is time that I “outed” myself vis-à-vis the Lockheed Building 157 story. I am the original source of both the measured reduction in absenteeism in the new building and the anecdotal evidence of the building’s role in Lockheed’s subsequent winning of a major contract.

My “deep throat” was the then-president of Lockheed, also my partner on a co-owned sailplane. He first informed me of the reduction in absenteeism in the mid-1980s. He permitted me to get the figures and, subsequently, to publish the information, which I did in the

Building Energy Managers Newsletter. He also informed me of the competitive benefit that the enhanced productivity gave Lockheed in landing a major defense contract, but he would neither let me get any more information about it nor let me publish it. I have honored my friend’s request until now, but since it has nevertheless become widely known, and appears widely in the literature, I feel it is all right for me to present to you the original story.

Lockheed contacted Leo Daly Associates in San Francisco in the early 1980s with a footprint for a new building into which they wanted to move about 3,000 employees. They asked Daly Associates to design a building to that footprint. Daly Associates said they could, but also said they could design a much better building if Lockheed would pay for two weeks of careful design development up-front. Lockheed did that, and the remarkable design for Building 157 resulted. An energy analysis performed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) demonstrated that the energy savings from the pervasive daylighting would pay back the extra $2.5 million in costs for the better building in five years, giving Lockheed a 20% return on investment. In addition, a full-size mockup of one of the offices convinced the Lockheed officials that they would like the proposed building. So Daly Associates got the go-ahead, and the building was built.

After the first year, the absenteeism in that block of employees had dropped by 15%, paying back more than the initial $2.5 million

in the first year, completely dwarfing the energy savings. Lockheed then competed for a $1.5 billion defense contract, to be performed by personnel in Building 157, and was able to reduce the charged labor hours in response to the productivity increase. They won the contract, the profit from which paid for

the entire building in the second year! Lockheed (anecdotally) credited the daylighting and the beauty of the work environment for winning that contract.

After Lockheed had been in the building for some time, however, they observed that their energy bills were not showing the anticipated 70% reduction in lighting power. Professor Chris Benton and his colleagues at LBL discovered improperly placed lighting sensors and other installation glitches. After LBL cleaned that up, they demonstrated in their own publications that the energy savings were being realized.So there you have it—the original story. Enjoy!

Donald Aitken, Ph.D.

Donald Aitken Associates

Berkeley, California

Published March 1, 2005

(2005, March 1). Aitken Tells All on Productivity at Lockheed. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/editorial/aitken-tells-all-productivity-lockheed

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