News Analysis

Living In The Lab

They are not perfectly controlled and calibrated laboratory experiments, but that’s not the point when firms deploy green building practices in their own offices. They need firsthand evidence something works or doesn’t work, especially when many of those practices are relatively new to most in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. These handful of firms want to test a product or strategy in a real-world setting, while insulating their clients from repercussions. And with LEED certifications for their offices becoming de rigeur, they have their own projects as willing guinea pigs.

Some firms have put their employees’ productivity on the line to explore and prove a strategy. As part of its LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) certification, the global architecture firm HOK moved 235 of its St. Louis office staff from a traditional segmented office to an open floor plan. A handful of closed offices remain, and a variety of conference work stations are available for meetings or phone calls, says Tim Gaidis, a senior associate. “The rentable area per employee went way down—we consolidated 78,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet,” he says. “There was a breaking-in period where people had to get used to a new way of doing things,” he notes, but it has been a success that has carried over to clients. “If we can’t walk the talk, how can we expect our clients to really believe in what we’re proposing?” asks Gaidis.

Published January 1, 2008

Roberts, T. (2008, January 1). Living In The Lab. Retrieved from