Get beyond the hype of the eco-friendly office, and you’ll find a workplace that tries to minimize its own environmental footprint. The ideal green workplace also puts systems in place that encourage their tenants/workers to do the same.
Like many ideals, this is harder than it looks. Very few workplaces meet the gold standard of the ultimate eco-friendly office, usually by meeting the tough standards set by the US Green Buildings Council through their LEED program. Which green offices made the cut?
Architectural firm Perkins + Will constructed their Seattle office with lofty green standards in mind – lighting that’s almost 50% more efficient than comparable spaces, water savings of up to 40%, and 80% of building materials sourced within 500 miles of the site.
The office’s design is plenty innovative, what you’d expect in a green design pioneer like Perkins + Will – a “solid white box” fixes the office’s center, from which the open design studio radiates. The box contains the conference rooms and service spaces; the rest of the office uses natural daylight and open furniture arrangements, all the better to encourage closer work between colleagues.
Perkins + Will’s eco-friendly office cost $1 million to build, covering 12,000 square feet in a six-story brick building. It achieved LEED Platinum on October 2006, the first platinum-certified project in Washington State.
Over in San Francisco, Google’s Bay area office pulls out all the stops to earn its LEED gold certification. Past the spectacular views of the Bay Bridge, Google’s workplace utilizes natural light to decrease energy costs (by making artificial lighting superfluous).
Building waste was minimized, through the re-use of partition walls, door assemblies, and furniture. New material used in construction was mostly sourced from local, sustainable sources.
What was thrown away was recycled – up to 64% of it, by Google’s estimate. Efficient water facilities were installed in bathrooms and kitchens. And indoor air quality was preserved by using low-VOC paint, adhesives, furniture, and sealants.
For Google, this kind of attention to detail isn’t a fluke – it’s company policy. In the following video, an employee chronicles the many steps that Google takes to earn its “ultimate eco-friendly office” stars:
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