Working in a Green Building

Friends Center’s place in Philadelphia history began in 1856, when the Race Street Meetinghouse was built jointly by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and what is now known as Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. In the early 1960s, a group of Friends responded to the long-stated wish to have a physical place where Quakers could gather for thought and action. The site they chose incorporates the Race Street Meetinghouse and its tree-filled courtyard. An adjacent 56,000 square foot office building was constructed in the early 1970s. This campus was dedicated as the Friends Center in 1974.

Recognizing that competition for water and energy resources are increasingly the source of war and conflict, Friends Center made a commitment to becoming a living witness for environmental responsibility. In 2010 Friends Center became a certified LEED Platinum building. LEED stand for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Office and meeting space were designed with thought to how each piece would work with each other to reduce the use of resources while keeping with a contemporary design.

Centuries-old Techniques
How does all of this affect the everyday user of the facility? It doesn’t! Most of the additions to the design are common sense, centuries-old techniques for the preservation of resources. The building is cool in the summer and warm in the winter just like any other building. The office is illuminated like any other office. The complex consumes water like any other complex. The difference lies in how those results are achieved.

Living in a green community does mean you will have to face change, but not in the manner most people think. The open office plan provides sunlight to play a part of illuminating the space. This helps to cut down on lighting costs and uses energy, but also provides natural light, a commodity that humans crave. How does this affect the office worker? The open office design removes walls to allow for light to fill the room. This means there are fewer barriers for sound to be contained. Conversation rooms are designed into the space to compensate.

Most change around this center is hardly noticeable. Friends Center diverts stormwater to be used in the toilet system. Using this water already destined for the sewer is unnoticeable to the user, but unbelievably helpful for a city using a single sewer system. Geothermal heating and cooling replaces an energy-using heat sink and replaces it with the temperature of the earth. The building still heats and cools as any other would.

Start at Work, Continue at Home
Green office living is not a major undertaking that alters every aspect of one’s work life. It often just involves simple design changes that make use of the natural resources that surround us. Many can be adopted into everyone’s everyday life. Simple changes like communal printers or using reusable or compostable cups and plates are not hard to enact. They provide an excellent starting point so that this green office community can begin or enhance your practice of going green.
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To hold your next meeting at Friends Center call 215-241-7190. For more information click here.
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To learn about leasing office space at Friends Center for your nonprofit organization call 215-241-7191.