Greening the Buildings that Already Exist
By: Pat Kohl
How can we take our existing buildings and make them better, greener places to work?
Here at the eBay Green Team, we believe the greenest product is the one that already exists. And we’ve discovered this also applies to the very buildings our employees work in. Intuitively, it makes sense – tearing down and rebuilding both costs more and wastes more resources than remodeling a building already standing. Recognizing that there’s a lot of sustainability work to be done without a wrecking ball, the U.S. Green Building Councilstarted a certification for Existing Buildings in 2008 (in addition to their LEED® certifications for new construction, which we’ve achieved at the Gold level for our ground-up building projectsMint and Topaz).
But what does this mean at our original eBay headquarters? Can we take what’s existing and make it green? That’s exactly what my colleagues and I at eBay’s Workplace Resources strive to do here in San Jose, one floor at a time.
So how did our LEED® AP certified designer green our new space? Let’s count the ways…
- Paint: we used no- or low-VOC paint that improves the indoor air quality for our employees
- Carpet: Just like in new Tel Aviv campus, we use Interface carpet tiles that have very high recycled content and are recyclable through Interface’s own ReEntry program
- Furniture: Desks are all by Steelcase, and chairs by Herman Miller chairs – selected for their highly sustainable manufacturing processes and their use of high recycled-content materials
- Lighting: Thanks to our lighting retrofit last year, the lighting is already energy efficient!
- Motion Sensors: In the conference rooms, we’ve connected the motion sensors that are already in place to turn out the lights, to the air conditioning systems since it doesn’t make sense to cool an empty room.
- Daylighting: Our cubicle walls are lowered so employees can get as much natural light as possible (it also makes it easier to talk with each other and collaborate)
- Video Conferencing: We’ve increased this technology in our new conference rooms, which makes it easier for our employees to be green and skip a business trip all together.
And all these green features are in a layout designed to help our innovative employees brainstorm the next Big Idea. We’ve upped the ante on collaborative spaces: one-on-one private rooms, soft seating, project lounges with dry erase boards and LED TV projectors, as well as small meeting tables in the rows for ad hoc discussions.
The eBay Whitman campus in San Jose is at the heart of our company’s history. We want our employee workspaces to bring together and reflect all our values, including principles of sustainability, innovation, and creativity. It’s a work in progress – 3 floors done and many more to go – but we know that small actions can make a big difference in the world.