In the pursuit of a sustainable future, eco-conscious office spaces have emerged as an important consideration, as buildings play a significant role in contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions. Stay with us as we show you the 10 company HQ’s sustainable buildings leading the way.
Recognising the need for awareness and action, real estate software company ProptechOS has compiled a list of ten exemplary green headquarters of major American corporations that are spearheading the transition to net zero operations.
These buildings were carefully selected based on their achievements in LEED certification, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a widely recognised green building certification program that establishes a comprehensive framework for constructing healthy, highly efficient, and cost-effective green buildings.
The headquarters featured on this list serve as examples of sustainable practices, showcasing the potential of innovative design and technology to minimise environmental impact while simultaneously enhancing employee health and productivity.
Amazon Spheres – Seattle, WA
LEED rating: Gold
In 2018, Amazon unveiled its much-anticipated Spheres office building, an architectural marvel that seamlessly blends nature and technology. This innovative workspace has garnered widespread acclaim for its unique nature-based design, which incorporates an abundance of greenery and natural elements to create a harmonious and inspiring environment for employees.
The Spheres’ most striking feature is its trio of interconnected glass domes, each housing a stunning 90-foot “living wall” teeming with over 40,000 plants from 50 countries. This verdant expanse, cultivated by a dedicated team of horticulturists over three years, provides a contrast to Seattle’s bustling urban landscape outside.
Beneath the lush greenery lies an ingenious irrigation system that circulates water throughout the living walls, ensuring optimal hydration for the plants. Excess water is cleverly rerouted to a central reservoir, minimizing waste and promoting resource conservation.
It’s claimed by building materials manufacturer Holcim that The Spheres’ choice of construction materials and processes saved more than 400 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Abbott Laboratories – Abbott Park, IL
LEED rating: Gold – 52
Abbott Park, a sprawling 260-hectare campus in Lake County, Illinois, is home to the global corporate headquarters and research and development centre of Abbott Laboratories. Since its inception in 1951, Abbott Park has been a model of sustainability, earning a Gold LEED certification in 2010.
The campus integrates energy-efficient technologies, green building practices, and eco-friendly landscaping, creating a harmonious balance between environmental responsibility and modern innovation.
Among the certification’s highlights, the headquarters is commended for its management of indoor air quality, which includes increased air ventilation, reduced particulates in air distribution, occupant-controlled lighting, and a high-performance cleaning programme.
Morgan Stanley Building – New York City, NY
LEED rating: Gold – 60
Towering over New York’s theatre district, 1585 Broadway has been the headquarters of Morgan Stanley since 1995.
Receiving a Gold LEED certification, the building’s design prioritises the well-being of its occupants, minimising indoor air pollutants and implementing a rigorous green cleaning program that utilises eco-friendly products and materials. Natural light is maximized and enhances the connection between indoor spaces and the surrounding cityscape.
Beyond its indoor environment, the building extends its sustainability ethos to the selection of furnishings and equipment. Sustainable electric-powered machinery and sustainable furniture contribute to the building’s overall environmental footprint.
While the building’s overall sustainability score falls short of the maximum by a single point, these measures underscore Morgan Stanley’s dedication to maintaining a sustainable and well-managed site.
Nvidia Endeavor and Voyager – Santa Clara, CA
LEED rating: Gold – 64
Nvidia’s headquarters in Silicon Valley is a shining example of sustainable design and innovation. The complex comprises two architectural gems: Endeavour and Voyager.
Endeavour, completed in 2018, sets a high standard for energy efficiency. Its features include underfloor air distribution, air and waterside economisers, and smart lighting systems, earning it a LEED Gold certification. Sustainability extends beyond the building itself, with landscaping designed to minimise water consumption and promote biodiversity.
Voyager, opened in 2022, takes this vision a step further. The 750,000-square-foot site seamlessly blends nature with cutting-edge technology. A 390 kW solar panel array generates clean energy, while natural light reduces reliance on electric lighting by an estimated 40%. To combat Santa Clara’s summer heat, drought-tolerant trees and reclaimed water are used for irrigation.
Adobe Founders Tower – San Jose, CA
LEED rating: Gold – 66
Since 1996, leading design and software company, Adobe, has called San Jose home, playing a pivotal role in the city’s burgeoning tech industry. In 2023, Adobe unveiled its Founders Tower, its vision of the future workplace.
The LEED Gold-certified Adobe Founders Tower stands as not only one of Silicon Valley’s most sustainable buildings, but the first all-electric building of its scale, powered entirely by renewable solar and wind energy. Furthering this commitment, Adobe’s food hall houses North America’s largest all-electric kitchen, contributing to over 70% of the company’s total electricity needs being met by renewable sources. Adobe has also pledged to reach 100% renewable energy across all operations by 2025.
Founders Tower stands alongside Adobe’s three other LEED-certified corporate towers, including Adobe West, which garnered the platinum certification in 2009 for its exemplary sustainability initiatives.
Wells Fargo’s Headquarters – San Francisco, CA
LEED rating: Gold – 71
Wells Fargo’s San Francisco headquarters achieved Gold LEED certification in 2018, scoring maximum points in the Energy and Atmosphere category with its optimised lighting power and lighting controls, as well as its robust energy performance measurement and verification processes.
This is not the first time Wells Fargo has received LEED recognition. In 2011, their 250,000-square-foot office in Norfolk, Virginia, also earned Gold LEED certification. Both offices were commended for their innovative design and efficient use of water and landscaping.
Googleplex and Bay View – Mountain View, CA
LEED rating: Platinum
Google’s Bay View extension campus, situated in the northeast corner of the company’s Mountain View, California headquarters. The 1.1 million square foot campus is the world’s largest building to achieve a LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of recognition for green buildings.
The campus is powered entirely by electricity, with no fossil fuels used on-site. It also features North America’s most extensive geothermal pile system, which uses the earth’s natural warmth to heat and cool the buildings. The campus is also net positive in water usage, meaning that it returns more water to the environment than it takes out. This is achieved through on-site recycling and stormwater management.
Beyond its energy and water efficiency, the Googleplex boasts a range of green features. The campus was constructed with sustainable and durable materials, such as reclaimed wood and recycled concrete. Employees enjoy various locally sourced food options, including a thriving vegetable garden and a café that sources all ingredients within a 150-mile radius.
Finally, in a unique twist on landscaping and a first on our list of sustainable buildings, Google employs a herd of goats to graze and fertilise the grounds, a method that is both environmentally friendly and more efficient than traditional lawn care
Microsoft Esterra Park – Redmond, WA
LEED rating: Platinum – 81
Microsoft’s One Esterra Park, situated within the 175-acre Overlake Village neighbourhood in Redmond, Washington, houses the company’s East Campus and is also the home of Nintendo of America’s headquarters.
Recently, Microsoft opened an innovative kitchen and food hall within its campus, garnering significant praise for its environmentally conscious approach. The facility, spanning 13,200 square feet, is entirely electric, eliminating the use of gas flames and their associated carbon emissions, despite serving up to 10,500 meals daily.
This approach to food preparation has earned Microsoft’s food hall a remarkable score of 22 out of 25 in the Energy and Atmosphere category under LEED’s (2022) evaluation, reflecting its exceptional energy efficiency. Additionally, the facility received the maximum score for its utilisation of low-emitting materials.
Apple Park Main Building – Cupertino, CA
LEED rating: Platinum – 87
Nestled in Silicon Valley, Apple Park embodies Apple’s environmental sustainability ethos. Designed by Foster + Partners and opened in 2017, this LEED Platinum-certified campus showcases many eco-conscious features.
Powered by clean energy, Apple Park boasts a 17-megawatt rooftop solar installation, one of the world’s largest, and a 4-megawatt biogas fuel cell facility.
Water conservation is equally impressive. A state-of-the-art water recycling system reuses treated wastewater, saving over 30 million gallons of potable water annually. The landscaping, with over 9,000 native drought-tolerant trees, promotes biodiversity and habitat restoration.
Prior to its opening, CEO Tim Cook went as far as suggesting to the New York Climate Week conference that it could be “the greenest building in the world”.
Salesforce Tower – San Francisco, CA
LEED rating: Platinum – 89
Since its completion in 2017, Salesforce Tower has become a symbol of San Francisco’s skyline. Not only is it the city’s tallest building, standing at an impressive 1,070 feet, but it also embodies Salesforce’s commitment to environmental sustainability and employee wellbeing.
The building has achieved the highest possible rating for green buildings, a platinum LEED certification, the highest on our list of sustainable buildings. This achievement is the culmination of several innovative features.
First and foremost, the tower boasts America’s largest on-site water recycling system within any commercial high-rise, reducing portable water usage by an astonishing 7.8 million gallons – equivalent to 62.4 million water bottles.
A groundbreaking Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system ensures every employee on every floor has access to 100% outdoor air. Additionally, employees have personal thermal comfort control at their workstations, allowing them to adjust the temperature to their individual preferences.
For visiting guests, the ‘Ohana Floor’ is perhaps the most awe-inspiring section of the Salesforce HQ. The term Ohana signifies “intentional family” in Hawaiian, and this concept is embodied in the floor’s design. The Ohana Floor is a haven for nature lovers, featuring 128 different plant species perched on its green-laden columns.
ProptechOS is a cloud-based operating system specifically designed for real estate owners. It consolidates data from various sources, including building management systems (BMS), information modelling (BIM), business data, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This comprehensive data collection enables ProptechOS to harmonize and analyse the information, providing actionable insights that empower real estate owners to make informed decisions.
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