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10 Green Commercial Buildings

These environmentally-friendly office spaces prove it's about working smarter, not harder.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Headquarters (Los Altos, California: 2012)

The forward-thinking headquarters of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, created in 2012, embodies the vision and mission of the philanthropic concern, a reflection of the Hewlett-Packard founder’s passion for the environment and technology. An angular grid of configurable office suites encircling an open courtyard, the Bay Area site reflects the region, sporting salvaged wood, local stone, and a red cedar exterior. And while the structure itself, a Net Zero Energy Building that earns LEED Platinum certification, is impressive, the architects at EHDD did one better by shaping culture as well as space. An energy audit revealed that the staff’s emissions were generated mostly from transportation, so EHDD added video conferencing suites and a shuttle to pick up staff from the nearby rail station.

Photo by Jeremy Bitterman

Where does our power go? While pipelines and petroleum often get the bulk of the media coverage, commercial and industrial buildings account for a surprisingly high amount of America's overall energy usage (40%), and contribute half of our overall climate emissions, according to the EPA. Office parks and high-rises add up, and while the idea of spending 40 hours a week in one can be daunting enough, those looking to curb emissions need to consider time on an entirely different scale. Three-quarters of buildings in the United States will be either new or renovated by 2035, according to the EPA; now’s the time to start encouraging smarter, savvier, and more energy efficient practices.

We’ve rounded up our favorite examples of green commercial construction—from a living building in Seattle to an off-centered brewery renovation with its own treehouse—to showcase spaces that work toward affecting a different bottom line.

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