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The soaring, skylight-lit space offers employees sweeping river views; the loft- like plan is punctuated by glassed-in meeting areas, gathering spots furnished with sofas and a spacious cafe for eating.
"For most of us, breathing fresh air or sitting by the water or being in a sunlit room is relaxing," says Shona Quinn, EILEEN FISHER Sustainability Leader. "Eileen had these values in mind when we renovated our offices."
From 1912 to 1988, the brick structure was home to Lord & Burnham, a greenhouse manufacturer whose notable projects included the glass conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden. In 1992 EILEEN FISHER took up tenancy; in 2007 we asked architect Earl Everett Ferguson to help us expand and transform the space. The project, along with our Creative Center at 111 Fifth Avenue in New York City, won a Good Design Is Good Business Award from Architectural Record in 2011.
The renovation took a holistic look at not just energy efficiency but the ways in which design fosters creativity, collaboration and community. By choosing an open plan, lighting costs were reduced and employee satisfaction increased— river views could be accessed by everyone.
For privacy, glass-walled conference rooms were situated in the middle of the workspace and along the non-window sides of the building. Multiple kitchens, stocked with china and silverware, encourage employees to prepare healthy food. They can eat at the indoor cafe or gather at picnic tables at the river's edge.
What no one anticipated, of course, was Hurricane Sandy. Even though our headquarters are located 20 miles north of the mouth of the Hudson River, rising sea levels caused the Hudson River to rise four feet and flood our headquarters. Muddied and waterlogged, we launched a second renovation. Now, even on calm sunny days, we have new respect for the strength of the river—and the urgency of addressing climate change.
Design with Nature in Mind
Natural light and open floor plan saves energy
CFLs, halogen bulbs and automatic light sensors
29 internal climate zones, efficient HVA
Reclaimed wood floors, natural fibers, some recycled wool rugs
Sustainable maple veneer on desks with core of recycled wood
Locally sourced materials and labor
Low-flow bathroom fixtures
Paints, stains and sealants: low/no VOCs
Green Guard certified filing cabinets
Contained spaces for copy machines
Close to train and restaurants, limiting need for car travel
Open spaces promote collaborative work
Kitchen stocked with china and silverware eliminates take-out waste
Informal gathering spaces with living room-like furnishing
Loft-like space for eating; outdoor picnic tables at the water's edge
Quiet Room, Yoga Room, Lactation Room
At our distribution center in Secaucus, New Jersey, a 500-kilowatt solar power system stretches across the roof, producing 60% of the warehouse's electricity needs. The amount of energy generated annually is equivalent to taking 36 cars off the road.
In the summer, the solar panels create a shading effect that reduces air conditioning demand. Khaja Khateeb, Director of Distribution, explains that "the entire warehouse seems cooler because the panels shade the roof and absorb heat. Overall, the solar panels have become a win-win addition for everyone."
Installed in June 2011, this solar project was made possible through a power purchase agreement with our landlord, Hartz Mountain, a major real estate developer that has 20 million square feet of flat roofs at its disposal. EILEEN FISHER agreed to buy the energy produced by the solar panels at or below the price for grid power; Hartz Mountain financed the solar panel installation through New Jersey's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program.
GREEN POWER IN OUR STORES
We're going beyond LED lighting by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits for 100% of our electricity consumption at our stores and corporate headquarters. We're also offsetting 50% of our inbound shipping emissions by helping to build wind turbines in rural communities through NativeEnergy.
Like many American homes, our stores and corporate headquarters are supplied by local power suppliers that generate electricity primarily through coal. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we decided to do more to support renewable energy and began funding wind turbines through NativeEnergy.
NativeEnergy is a socially conscious company that pools the resources of both individual investors and companies like EILEEN FISHER in order to fund local renewable energy projects. In terms of wind, it focuses on small sites many developers would pass over, assessing each for wind-worthiness—and social impact.
Building even a single wind turbine is a huge venture that can cost approximately $3.5 million. We are proud to have joined Aveda, Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar and others to support two recent NativeEnergy projects:
Iowa Farms Wind Project. For small farmers who struggle financially, leasing their land for wind turbines provides a critical source of additional income. Crops can grow right up to the foot of the turbines; communities benefit from increased tax revenue and expanded job opportunities. The Iowa farm project, which we contributed to in 2011 and 2012, has financed two wind turbines in northern Iowa.
Shenandoah School Wind Project. In Middletown, Indiana, three rural schools now have a wind turbine to power 85% of their energy needs. The Shenandoah School Wind Project, which we contributed to in 2013, has helped cut school costs—with savings projected to total $1.77 million over 20 years—and created a renewable energy learning lab for students. The project has also eliminated an estimated 13,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.