General Electric’s (GE) Energy Financial Services Division is celebrated for its innovation in providing alternative energy sources for the United States and abroad. Their 280,000 sf headquarters relocation reflects this innovation by providing opportunities for consistent interaction between its team members.
This is a truly unique and healthy workspace for employees to work, interact, and share ideas. From visioning sessions with a cross-section of GE staff, and through the leadership of GE Energy Financial Service’s CEO, a decision was made to shift to a 70% open plan work environment with significantly reduced private workplace. In addition, a huge shift was made in the provision of collaboration opportunities—which their CEO saw as critical to foster the ideas exchange the company depends upon. These collaborative venues included more traditional conference rooms and huddles, as well as a 50-foot-long white board with lounge seating under skylights as well as the “living room” a space with pantry, plasma screen and coffee bar to encourage chance encounters and ideas exchange. Recognizing the benefits that staff gets from health promoting programs and initiatives, GE also provided many amenities for its staff including: a state-of-the-art fitness center, storage and showers for bicyclists, classrooms for yoga, as well as jogging and walking trails around the headquarters property.
As a purveyor of alternative energy strategies, it was important for the project to incorporate leading environmental initiatives. Perkins Eastman worked closely with GE at the project’s inception to find ways to make the new headquarters as environmentally responsible as possible. The building achieved LEED Gold certification for its use of sustainable products, lighting efficiencies, and other environmental practices. Perkins Eastman teamed with Sustainable Design Collaborative (SDC) as LEED consultant to develop a strategy that included 100% use of green power from wind, 30% reduction in water usage, 20% use of recycled materials in the project’s interior finishes, 20% use of materials manufactured within a 500-mile radius, “cradle-to-cradle” furniture, use of low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitting materials, and incorporation of alternative transportation, including provision for bicyclists. More than 75% of waste was diverted from landfills during construction. Innovative green design features also include a series of branding walls that explore the company’s history and educate visitors and staff.