COPPERTON — Improving employee productivity is one reason Kennecott Utah Copper Co. recently reinvented its Mine Administration Building and spruced up its visitors center.

But the other reason Kennecott has invested millions of dollars into its mine buildings is the company values being recognized as an environmentally conscious community member and employer, said general mine manager Ted Himebaugh.

"This (project) becomes an icon to the people that work here that says this is different, the company cares about this, and when we ask our employees to be environmentally friendly, we send a huge message by doing it ourselves," Himebaugh said.

Kennecott's new administration building and remodeled visitors center are the first of the mine's buildings to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification. The company spent some $2 million on the administration building to add reusable carpet and use recycled materials for 20 percent of the building's materials — but it doesn't look like it, said architect Garth Shaw.

"You don't walk up to this building and think it's a green building, but that's the challenge for an architect," Shaw said.

Waterless urinals and low-flow toilets limit the amount of potable water that will be used in the building. Sun shades and light shelves control the amount of natural sunlight that enters the building. And light sensors accordingly decrease or increase the amount of artificial light that is projected.

Shaw designed the administration building in six different pods so that it can be dismantled and moved easily, eliminating the need to construct a new building every 10 years. The visitors center was moved to another area to facilitate mining procedures and updated to have less of an environmental impact.

The buildings cost about 15 percent more to include the environmentally friendly details, but Shaw and Himebaugh say the initial increased cost is worth it.

"When you get started, you have to decide if it's worth it," Himebaugh said. "We made a lot of changes to get to where we are now."

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