Month: February 2017

February LEED Project Update




By Julie Lundin, Founder, LEED AP ID+C, NCIDQ, ASID
Director of Sustainable Interior Design for Emerald Skyline Corporation



Emerald Skyline Corporation in conjunction with Golden Spiral Design, is designing, renovating and repurposing an unoccupied industrial building located in Boca Raton, FL. This building was formerly an auto garage that stood vacant for several years and was environmentally contaminated. Our renovation includes many sustainable features with the intent to obtain LEED certification from the USGBC.

LEED certified building boca raton floridaWe are getting close… to completing the build out of the interior of our project. I would like to share some of the design details and finishes that we have chosen. This building is an old auto garage so we are keeping the existing open floor plan of the main garage space with minimum interior walls being constructed.   The perimeter concrete walls will remain intact without the addition of a drywall finish. The walls have so much character; the imperfections on the concrete block that have accumulated over the years are too interesting to cover up. The walls will be painted and some of the imperfections enhanced with paint layering. The 3 overhead garage door openings have been replaced with impact windows and doors with the center opening now serving as the main entrance.   Since it is important to our design concept to retain as many of the auto garage components as possible we designed this elevation to keep the overhead doors in place behind the new glazing. Manual lift mechanisms have been installed to enable us to raise and lower the garage doors. We are using the roll down doors as large metal shades for both privacy and sun control since the openings are located on the south façade. Broad horizontal stripes will be painted on the interior of the overhead doors to add a bold touch to the space when lowered.

Due to the absence of interior walls we will have an open workspace. Open work spaces can offer important benefits. Our windows and doors are south facing which will allow natural light to filter through the entire office and provide views of the outside. Studies have shown that natural light and views of the outdoors provide occupants attributes of increased patience, productivity and physical health. Open work spaces can be beautiful but do lend themselves to noise issues that need to be addressed in order to function well. Since we are not constructing interior walls, the spaces and their usage will be delineated by furniture and lighting placement. “Floating” furniture and fixtures will create visual separation as well as help control sound transference. The existing concrete floor will remain but be polished and stained. Hard surfaces do a poor job of absorbing sound, so we will be using large area rugs to help minimize noise. The ceiling height is 12 ft. in this portion of the building and is a great architectural element, yet can also contribute to unwanted noise. Once we are in the building and experience the day to day noise levels, additional soft acoustical materials may need to be added. In addition, plants provide sound absorbing capabilities that can work just as effectively in an indoor environment as an outdoor setting as well as provide health benefits, including improving oxygen levels. We may even include a living wall!

Since this is a LEED registered project the specifications for the interior build out as well as exterior choices will contribute to the certification of the building. There are many products available that are not only attractive but have the attributes needed to create a beautiful and sustainable space. Some of our selections include:

  • Low flow toilets and faucets
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Low VOC paints and finishes
  • Bamboo wood flooring
  • LED Lighting
  • Reuse of demolition materials
  • ChargePoint Electric Vehicle Charging Station
  • Water Collection Cistern
  • HVAC Condensation Drip Lines for exterior vegetation

Two of my favorite sustainable design choices are on the exterior of the building. A recycled glass mosaic of an abstract nautilus shell was created to adorn the south elevation. Metal “green screens” will be attached to the front apex of the building to create a green wall that will add beauty and provide shading to the stucco exterior.

There is still much to be accomplished but we look forward to being in our new space and sharing the completed details and photos with you.


3 tips for designing workplaces that support culture, brand, and community

An authentic culture cannot be forced but can be encouraged and supported.

By Hakee Chang, Denise Darrin and Lisa Weeks, Building Design & Construction, 2/2/2017

View the original article here.

workplace culture sustainabilityThe workplace has evolved exponentially over the past decade, from large, uniform workstations and offices to efficient open plans and auxiliary areas. Technology has advanced from desktop computers and landlines, to laptops, and mobile apps. Innovation in technology has driven an increase in employees’ productivity and efficiency, and innovation in design has strategically followed.

However, effective and engaging workplace design doesn’t stop with a response to technological and real estate needs. It must go further, supporting the creation and integration of a company’s culture, brand identity, and overall community.


The most integrated cultures are co-created by leaders and teams. They are shared, organic, and capable of evolving. An authentic culture cannot be forced, but can be encouraged and supported. Without direct participation and buy-in from those involved, a company’s culture can end up a “mission statement on business card” or a “tagline on a wall” – noticed upon move-in, but quickly forgotten thereafter.

We have been fortunate to see these principles in action with a number of our key clients. In particular, technology companies are dealing with cultural change on almost a daily basis as a result of rapid growth. For example, one financial technology client has an ever-adapting nature and willingness to learn. Their leadership embodies an approach that has allowed exceptionally talented people of various backgrounds to come together with a unified and understood purpose.

The ethos of any company is the driving force. People connect over shared stories and experiences. Our job as workplace designers is to clearly understand the experiences of each and every client. What are their company’s particular drivers and values? How we can create a space that reflects and enhances those values and support the natural curation of their culture?


Understanding a client’s brand in the context of external perception and internal practices are two crucial elements to designing a meaningful workplace. Through visioning and programming interviews, we find that office staff often seeks their work environment to “walk the talk.” It has to be authentic and reflect the reasons why they joined the company, and offer opportunities to highlight how their contributions matter.

As a first step, we typically will create overlapping layers of an “experience map” to begin building a workplace design that contributes to the client’s ethos. We map out various use scenarios through points of view, such as anticipating the tour our client may give to a candidate or business partners, an all-hands meeting, or an event for external community engagement. These maps overlap with curated moments where people can connect to individual stories or testimonials that are both inspirational and aspirational.

We recently worked with a technology company whose focus is on physical activity and health, and we incorporated design elements to encourage movement. For example, we designed meeting spaces with treadmills, social and collaboration spaces along popular walking routes, and adaptable spaces with natural light, comfortable temperatures, and views. Since the company offices are spread between buildings within a dense urban location, we leveraged the city as a vital active conduit to tie both the company’s brand and connect staff with their customer base. Allowing workflow through the neighborhood created a first-hand brand awareness that extends beyond the interior office environment.


Technology has allowed the traditional office to transform into a dynamic working environment. The workplace is no longer built on “my” office or “my” desk, but has developed into “our” space: a place for community.

Technology has provided flexibility, choice, and options to employees – giving everyone the ability to decide where, how, and when they work. Yet, the reduction of individual workspace has created a need for smaller neighborhoods within the larger community. To help alleviate the possibility of feeling “crowded” it is essential to effectively distribute varied opportunities for different work styles, while providing adequate support and shared spaces.

All of these factors have prescribed that companies establish community guidelines, the rules of engagement for the workplace. These guidelines address issues from etiquette to functionality.

Our Minneapolis office recently relocated and moved to an activity-based “free address” work environment with no assigned seats to untether talent from desks and empower employees with choice. Etiquette guidelines were created to assist in this new environment, including:

  1. Individuals are expected to clear their workspace of all materials if out of the office for more than four hours, and when they leave at the end of the day, so the location can host another user.
  2. Meeting rooms have different behaviors and etiquette associated with them. For instance, huddle rooms are non-reservable and dedicated to more informal, spontaneous meetings or calls.
  3. Project storage, personal storage, and office supplies have centralized home bases outside of the immediate workstations to prevent duplication and waste.

As an overall goal, the new workspace recognizes the value of a variety of workstyles: from large group meetings to spontaneous interactions to individual heads-down work. The studio supports this spectrum of work with project rooms, huddle rooms, pin-up spaces, and focus rooms.

Community guidelines present the parameters for employees to respect each other and their work places and to follow the “Platinum Rule”: treat others the way they want to be treated.