In late February, we moved into our bright and airy new building in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. Throughout the entire design process, we wanted our new home to embody the people and values that make Meeting Tomorrow unique. For us, that includes prioritizing an earth-friendly office and warehouse.
From the start of our planning process, our employee Sustainability Board, called EcoMT, advocated for sustainable measures for the entire property. We aimed big: Of the 29 recommendations, 27 are already a reality or are in the works.
Overall, we made sure our new building adopted practices that save energy and lower utility bills, as well as help the environment by minimizing wasteful resource consumption. In addition to financial and environmental benefits, many of the energy efficient updates make the office more comfortable for our team.
We love our new home. And we’re so excited to share its sustainable features our building team brought to life:
- We retrofitted and rehabbed the original structure instead of tearing down the building.
- Our new building is on a major bike route and very close to public transit in a dense, urban neighborhood. We favored biking, walking, and public transit over automobiles in all planning and decision making. We minimized the parking spaces required in our parking lot and are working on an exterior that’s friendly to pedestrians and people who ride bikes.
- We picked materials, products, and services that have the least negative environmental impact in terms of energy demand, use of resources, and toxicity to the environment.
- We only used local and regional suppliers and selected reusable, recycled, and recyclable products whenever we could. We ordered furniture and materials from companies practicing sustainable manufacturing processes. Plus, we reused existing building materials and office furniture, rather than buying all of it new.
- We took advantage of natural light by replacing the building’s skylight.
- For the majority of our paint, we used low or no VOC paint with little or no off-gassing.
- Inside, we only used Energy Star equipment including appliances, computers, monitors, printers, scanners, fax machines, and copiers whenever possible. We have LED lights, including LED exit signs, and said goodbye to fluorescent lighting. Our programmable thermostats include occupancy/vacancy sensors. We sourced flooring from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) local suppliers. We have low-flow, EPA-approved faucets and as well as dual flush toilets.
- Continuing practices from our old home, we also have recycling collection sites, compost collection sites, and indoor bike parking.
Finally, we are now sourcing 100 percent renewable energy for our office and warehouse! We have elected to work with Green Mountain Energy and all of our energy now comes from renewable, green sources. This will also help us save on our utilities, letting us invest even more in our company and customers.
In the future, we look forward to having an energy-audit to identify even more energy saving strategies. These could include an HVAC monitoring system, onsite renewable energy, and wind turbines or solar panels. We’re also planning on designing landscaping with native species, having office plants that improve indoor air quality, and planting kitchen garden beds for employee gardening.
About the author: Renee Patten is the Manager of Innovation Projects and the chair of the Sustainability Board. She loves bicycling, adventuring, and growing edible & native plants.