CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee today announced its intent to achieve LEED® certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its new Chattanooga headquarters. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the nationally accepted benchmark of the USGBC for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

When certified, the BlueCross headquarters, totaling 950,000 square feet of office space, will be the largest LEED-certified project in Tennessee.

"Our commitment to LEED is a reflection of our company’s investments in health and quality of life," said Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross. "LEED building standards have the ability to positively impact the efficiency of our building operations and business processes, as well as the health of the environment, our employees and the Chattanooga community."

New construction can earn one of four LEED ratings—certified, silver, gold or platinum. BlueCross officials and the project design team expect to qualify for LEED Silver certification but hope to achieve LEED Gold. Currently there are nine LEED certified projects in Tennessee—one certified gold and no platinum-certified projects. Including the BlueCross Campus, there are five building projects registered for LEED in Chattanooga.

According to Bob Worthington, chief strategy officer for BlueCross, the desire to incorporate certain sustainable design attributes in the new corporate campus has been present since the initial decision to build a consolidated office complex.

"Our master planning goals have always included sustainability, innovation and wellness," said Worthington. "That translates into not only better controlling cost and increasing efficiency, but it also means transforming our work environment to better meet the needs of our employees, members and the health care community."

To earn LEED certification, performance measurements must be achieved in five key areas of environmental and human health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

According to design simulation models performed by LEED consultantGreen Building Services, Inc. of Portland, Ore., the new campus is projected to:

• Reduce energy costs by over 20 percent or $265,000 annually than if the project had been built to minimum code standards.

• Save 20 million gallons of water annually by using ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures, a water-efficient irrigation system and low water-use plants.

• Improve indoor air quality for employees by employing an underfloor air distribution system and specifying ventilation rates that are 30 percent higher than required by code.

• Decrease storm water runoff by 15 percent.

• Reduce global warming impacts and ozone depletion through the use of a more efficient cooling system that doesn’t use ozone depleting chemicals.

Once LEED certification is achieved, the BlueCross campus will support the cooperative efforts of the Green Spaces Initiative, a partnership of the Lyndhurst Foundation, City of Chattanooga, and River City Company to achieve 20 LEED certified buildings in downtown Chattanooga by 2010.

Major vendors responsible for the BlueCross corporate campus include architectural firms Duda/Paine, headquartered in Durham, N.C., and HKS, headquartered in Dallas, Texas; TVS Interiors in Atlanta, Ga.; and HGOR, a planning and landscaping design firm out of Atlanta.

Skanska, a world leader in green construction, along with EMJ Corporation and H.J. Russell & Company, serve as the construction management team. Serving as the project manager for the entire building process is The Staubach Company, a national real estate consulting firm with significant LEED experience.

The new BlueCross headquarters is scheduled for completion in June 2009.

About USGBC

The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. Since UGSBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 14,500 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building rating systems, an expansive educational offering, the cutting-edge Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (www.greenbuildexpo.org), and a network of 72 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.