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It's Not Easy Bein' Green

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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WATER LOGGED: Hearst Castle

When it opened last June, the West 57th Street high-rise that now serves as Hearst's headquarters was billed as the greenest office building in New York. But rumor has it the Norman Foster-designed skyscraper is not as environmentally friendly as it seems. Among the building's much-touted innovations is a motion-activated system that automatically shuts off the lights when employees leave their cubicles. But wary of advertising their own absence, sources say, many employees have disabled the sensors to keep their lights on all day long. "I don't want everyone I work with to be able to tell at a glance when I'm not at my desk," explains a high-strung Hearst editor.

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Then there's the issue of water—a must-have for anorexic fashionistas battling hunger pangs. Most of Hearst's old offices were equipped with water coolers; in the new building, employees are invited to help themselves to free 12-ounce Poland Spring bottles, resulting in truckloads of empties. Of course, all that liquid has to go somewhere, which has created some problems for a certain pee-shy editor in chief. Sources say the editrix, known for writing cover lines that would make a stripper blush, enjoyed a private bathroom in Hearst's old digs but is forced to share with the masses in the new, open-plan space. Her underlings say this editor flushes repeatedly before doing her business as a signal to let loiterers know they should clear out of the bathroom and give her some privacy.

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