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Buildings account for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making eco-friendly office spaces a crucial component of overall sustainability efforts. To increase awareness of sustainable building construction, real estate software company ProptechOS collaborated with the U.S. Green Building Council to curate a list of 10 green headquarters of large companies that are leading the way on the road to net zero.

The selections, drawn from companies in the S&P 500, feature headquarters with a documented LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating – highlighting their commitment to sustainability, innovation, and environmental responsibility.

Some of their most impressive green initiatives include:

  • A food hall that is the largest all-electric kitchen in North America
  • Using a herd of goats to graze and fertilize company grounds
  • Having 40,000 plants from 50 different countries spread across green areas
  • Planting 9,000 drought-tolerant trees on the company site and implementing a recycling system that supports the water needs of the nearby city of Cupertino

View the full report here: https://proptechos.com/green-headquarters/

Salesforce Tower – San Francisco, CA

LEED rating: Platinum – 89

Since its completion in 2017, Salesforce Tower has been the tallest and one of the most iconic fixtures on San Francisco’s skyline. With a platinum LEED certification, the 1,070 ft building combines an impressive stature with a deep commitment to sustainability and wellbeing.
This ecocentric design scores maximum LEED points for its innovation in design and water efficiency. Onsite, you can find America’s largest onsite water recycling system within any commercial high-rise. The efficiency of this system reduces portable water usage by 7.8 million galleons — equivalent to 62.4 million water bottles.
The building’s innovative HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system allows employees on every floor to breathe in 100% outdoor air. Additionally, workers have personal thermal comfort control at their workstations and experience minimal noise disturbance from the under-floor air distribution due to the low-energy, low-velocity air supply.
For visiting guests, perhaps the most impressive section of the Salesforce HQ is the Ohana Floor. The term Ohana means “intentional family” in Hawaiian, and it’s clear that the intention behind the floor is to foster a sense of wellness through its biophilic design, which features 128 different plant species attached to its impressive green-laden columns.

Apple Park Main Building – Cupertino, CA 

LEED rating: Platinum – 87

The main building of Apple’s California HQ, Apple Park, sets the bar high for sustainable offices and buildings in general. Prior to its 2017 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.”
As noted by its LEED accreditation in 2019, the headquarters runs on 100% renewable energy, thanks to its 14 megawatt rooftop solar installation and 4 megawatts of biogas fuel cells.
The site is nourished with 9,000 drought-tolerant trees, and the water that the office recycles helps to replace over 30 million gallons of what would be potable water used for everyday needs such as irrigation and toilet flushing. It even extends to support the water use of the nearby City of Cupertino.
Other notable green features include 4,300 hollow concrete slabs, which help the building stay cool, and its landscaping, which was designed with a leading Stanford University arborist to help restore a significant level of the area’s native plant life.

Microsoft Esterra Park – Redmond, WA

LEED rating: Platinum – 81

Microsoft’s One Esterra Park sits within a 175-acre Overlake Village neighborhood in the Overlake area of Redmond, which is also home to Nintendo of America’s headquarters.
The building that has received particular environmental plaudits within their campus is a recently opened kitchen and food hall that is deservedly being talked about as a “kitchen of the future”.
Employees on the campus are no doubt enthralled by the choice of cuisine on offer from its nine food stations that cater to global cuisine tastes from the best local guest chefs and restaurants.
However, they can also be comforted by the knowledge that its 13,200 square feet of cooking space are powered by electricity — in other words, there isn’t a CO2 intensive gas flame in sight, despite serving as many as 10,500 meals per day.
Under its Energy and Atmosphere scoring by the LEED (2022), Microsoft’s foodhall earns 22 out of 25 on “optimizing energy performance”, and also earns a maximum score for its use of “low-emitting materials”.
Jodi Smith Westwater, senior services manager for Microsoft dining operations, told GeekWire that she hopes this office innovation will have “a ripple effect on culinary, restaurants, chefs, on the industry as a whole… Because if we can do it here with 1,000 transactions a day there’s really no reason anyone couldn’t do the same thing.”

Googleplex and Bay View – Mountain View, CA

LEED rating: Platinum v4

Google has previously claimed that 4.5 million square feet of its offices globally have been re-designed to meet LEED certification standards, and the tech giant has committed $1.8 billion towards renewable energy projects.
As far back as 2007, the company installed more than 9,000 solar panels with an energy capacity of 1.6 megawatts on the Googleplex site. In 2017, Google also announced that its entire operations ran on 100% renewable energy.
Situated in the northeast corner of the complex, Google’s Bay View extension campus spans 1.1 million square feet, distinguishing itself as one of the world’s largest building to achieve LEED v4 Platinum certification. This all-electric campus features North America’s most extensive geothermal pile system and is net positive in water usage, thanks to on-site recycling and stormwater management.
Other notable green features of the Googleplex include the choice of sustainable, durable building materials and a herd of goats that are routinely employed onto the site’s green areas to graze and fertilize the grounds — an approach that is just as efficient and more carbon friendly than lawn mowing.
The site’s green credentials also apply to how Google’s on-campus employees consume food. Along with a vegetable garden, many of the offerings on the cafe’s food menus make use of local organic foods. Their Café 150 also sources all of their ingredients within a 150-mile radius.

Wells Fargo’s Headquarters – San Francisco, CA

LEED rating: Gold – 71

The San Francisco HQ of Wells Fargo was awarded a Gold LEED certification in 2018, with the office’s sustainable innovation in design and green power scoring maximum points.
Other features that the office was credited with are associated with the Energy and Atmosphere scoring, including its optimization of lighting power and lighting controls, and the process and tools by which they measure and verify their energy performance.
This isn’t the first office of the finance giants to be LEED certified either. In 2011, their 250,000 sq ft site in Norfolk, Virginia was awarded gold standard. Both its innovation in design and efficient use of water and landscaping scored highly as part of the building’s recognition.

Adobe Founders Tower – San Jose, CA

LEED rating: Gold – 66

San Jose has been home to Adobe since 1996. The design and software giant has played a prominent role in the local tech industry’s rapid growth over the years.
The 2023 opening of their Founders Tower seems to be a fitting tribute to a company with such a large presence in the area. The company described their latest office as the “physical manifestation of what we believe the future of the workplace will be — sustainably built and run, optimized for hybrid, designed for community, adaptable, and resilient to change.”
Few could argue with the sustainable record of the building, with it opening to a Gold LEED certification. It is the first all-electric building of such scale to open in Silicon Valley, with its power being generated entirely by solar and wind energy.
The food hall is the largest all-electric kitchen in North America, which helps contribute to more than 70% of Adobe’s total electricity needs being met by renewable energy. The company is confident that this figure will increase to 100% across all of their operations by as soon as 2025.
The Founders Tower sits in good company alongside Adobe’s three other corporate towers that have also been LEED certified, including Adobe West, which was credited with platinum certification in 2009 for its high level of sustainability.

Nvidia Endeavor and Voyager – Santa Clara, CA

LEED rating: Gold – 64

Nvidia’s impressive California HQ consists of two major construction projects — Endeavour, completed in 2018, and Voyager which opened in 2022.
In their 2022 sustainability report, Nvidia notes that both projects were built to LEED gold certification standards. Endeavour was designed with high levels of energy efficiency at its heart. Features such as underfloor air distribution, air and waterside economizers and smart lighting systems all contribute to its acclaimed sustainability.
Voyager’s 750,000-square-foot site incorporates biophilic design and an external trellis that houses 390 KW of solar panels. Natural light is also utilized as the main light source throughout the day, which reduces reliance on electric lighting by an estimated 40%.
The intense summer heat of Santa Clara is accounted for in the surrounding green areas that are filled with drought-tolerant trees and connected to a reclaimed water feed.

Morgan Stanley Building – New York City, NY

LEED rating: Gold – 60

1585 Broadway has served as the headquarters of Morgan Stanley since 1995. Its 42 storeys stand prominently in New York’s theater district, and its environmental record has earned a Gold LEED certification.
The building’s indoor environmental quality scores favorably in areas such as the reduction of indoor air particulates, a high performance green cleaning programme that includes purchasing of sustainable products and materials, and excellent use of daylight and views.
The use of sustainable materials and resources also extends to other objects within the building, including sustainable electric-powered equipment, sustainable furniture and reduced mercury in lamps.
The site itself does not score as highly as possible for its overall sustainability — 15 points out of a possible 16. However, within the category of “sustainable sites”, the office did score highly for its building exterior and hardscape management plan, as well as its integrated pest management, erosion control and landscape management.

Abbott Laboratories – Abbott Park, IL

LEED rating: Gold – 52

Abbott Park is the global corporate headquarters of Abbott Laboratories, and a center for research and development. The campus incorporates energy-efficient technologies, green building practices, and eco-friendly landscaping, which have led to it being recognised with a Gold LEED certification in 2010.
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.
The materials and resources used to construct buildings play a considerable role when assessing the sustainable credentials of a building. In Abbott Park, the purchasing of durable goods, ongoing consumables and solid waste management were all scored favorably when assessing the site.

Amazon Spheres – Seattle, WA

LEED rating: Gold

The Amazon Spheres office opened in 2018 to much fanfare over its nature-inspired design. The office’s stunning 90-foot “living walls” and green areas incorporate 40,000 plants from 50 countries — a task that needed a full-time horticulturalist to manage the growth over a period of three years.
Beneath the greenery of the office’s walls there is a water irrigation system that is able to circulate water throughout each area of the wall that requires it and reroute any remaining water to a central reservoir.
Biophilic architecture such as this allows workers and visitors to reap some of the benefits that spending time in nature brings, despite The Spheres being located among the thriving urban landscape of Seattle.
With a Gold LEED certification, 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.

Commenting on the findings, Per Karlberg, CEO at ProptechOS, said the following:

“With a strong brand comes added responsibility to lead by example in sustainability. It’s not just about market dominance or profitability; it’s about setting a standard and inspiring others to follow.”

“As we can see from our research, the levels of green-focused innovation that companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe have incorporated into the construction, design, and operations of their headquarters are truly world-leading and recognized as such by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED framework.”

Melissa Baker, Senior Vice President at the U.S. Green Building Council, added:

“Green buildings are good for the environment and good for people but also make a lot of business and economic sense. This is why major corporations worldwide have adopted green building certification for their headquarters and beyond. By supporting certified buildings, companies can save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions, and create healthier places for people.”

For more information please visit: https://proptechos.com/green-headquarters/


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