Peter founded Dansko with his wife Mandy. Peter's passion has always been with the environment. Long before "green" became a buzzword, Peter was on a mission for sustainability. His vision inspired and built our LEED® Gold Certified HQ in the rolling hills of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. It's independent, third party verification of our commitment to a healthy environment for staff, visitors and our community. We are very proud to call it home.
Check out our Living Wall, which welcomes you on arrival at Dansko HQ. A vertical garden of orchids, philodendron and more. How does it work? More than a dozen different plant species are each held in a soil-filled pocket and watered through an irrigation system hidden behind the fabric. While beautiful to look at, the Living Wall also serves an important purpose. The wall acts as a natural air filter to improve air quality for a clean and healthy workspace.
Two-thirds of our roof is covered by plants! These shrubs and grasses, planted in soil, help insulate the building and reduce our heating and cooling usage. What's more, the roof absorbs between to 60-80% of rainwater to minimize run-off and soil erosion around the building.
We have a number of copper rain chains, which we use instead of traditional gutters or downspouts. These chains not only look really cool, they collect water, which we store in a 10,000 gallon underground tank. This gray water is then recycled and used in everyday operations for things like watering the plants and flushing toilets, reducing our need to use precious water from local reserves. It also limits the impact on our storm water management system.
The surface of our parking lot is "pervious", which means that water can go through its surface and filter back to the natural water table. There are also grassy areas around the perimeter, for overflow parking if we need it. These areas also work as rain gardens, with underground chambers that collect rainwater and let it slowly absorb into the ground rather than running off into streambeds. We also have other rain gardens in the center of the parking area. All these elements were carefully planned as part of our storm water management system. Storm water systems like these reduce sedimentation and erosion of local streams.
Our commitment to using 100% renewable energy for our energy needs includes 1,100 solar panels on our roof, ready to capture the sun's rays and turn them into electricity. Right now, the system supplies about 25% of the total energy we need or more than 300,000 kilowatts a year.
What we can't supply ourselves we offset with other sources of renewable energy. Since 2008, we have been purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) from local wind farms in Pennsylvania. RECs give people and businesses across the country, the opportunity to support renewable energy and contribute to the growth of a sustainable energy future.
We chose modular carpet tiles for our office areas. This kept carpet waste to a minimum during installation and lets us easily replace individual tiles if we need to, without having to rip up carpet from the entire room. Then, these soiled or worn carpet tiles can be recycled and used in the production of new carpet. We also have Terrazzo flooring in high traffic areas, like our lobby and hallways. This easy to clean flooring is made of 100% post-use recycled glass, which saves tons and tons of glass from ending up in landfills. It's super durable and will possibly outlive the building - at which time it could be reclaimed, separated and reused once again.
We used low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint everywhere throughout our building — walls, stairways, trim, ceilings. You name it! This is a very simple way to make sure the air in our building is safe, clean and healthy. This paint also has better fade resistance which means ... less repainting! YEA!
Louvers at the top of each window inside the building facilitate better use of natural light by reflecting it up and into rooms. On the outside of our windows there are what we affectionately refer as "eyebrows" — better known as solar shades — which help deflect direct sun and lessen heat gain. The windows used throughout building have a special film suspended between two panels of glass for energy efficiency. This helps control sun filtration, drafts, ultra-violet fading and sound. Smart lighting automatically increases when the natural light is low and decreases when the natural light is high. In rooms that are used less there are also occupancy sensors. When you walk in the room the lights automatically turn on, and when there is no activity in a room for a certain period of time, the lights turn off.
All flooring in our building is raised. This provides for efficient use of space for air ducts and electrical outlets and combined with the modular carpet tiles allows for flexibility with configuration of the workspace layout of any given room.
Green planning doesn't stop with construction. We looked closely at every aspect of the building from the chairs at the desks to the products used in cleaning. Furniture and workspaces are all Green Guard Certified. Materials used for workstations can be easily reused and reconfigured to adapt to changing needs of the different departments.
Our open floor plan doesn't demand many traditional walls but there are times when partitioning is necessary. In these cases we've traded 2" x 4"s and drywall for eco-resin panels. These eco-friendly panels have up to 40% recycled content and are WAY much more interesting to look at! In one area, we have recycled resin panels that incorporate red beading and wire mesh decoration handcrafted by women in Africa. The money they make from selling their crafts goes directly back to their community. Other variations of the panels feature organic reeds and native grasses — not only sustainable resources, but beautiful too.
We know that there is more to a healthy work environment than a living wall and eco friendly building materials. That is why we built in quality of life components to our green building including an on-site gym with locker room and showers, meditation rooms, break room with TVs and a rooftop patio.
We are proud to report that thanks to the commitment of every single employee, we recycle 86% of our waste. Trash cans at the desks have been replaced with recycling bins. Specialty items like electronics are collected during special drives and we have shredding parties to handle sensitive materials. We have an employee-run Green Team whose job it is to research best practices and keep the rest of our team educated. We also maintain our community's only recycling center making it possible for those around us to help out too.
We hope you can visit us and enjoy the diversity of artwork we have on display. My wife and fellow Co-Founder Mandy and I handpicked every single piece. Lots of pieces we have are made from "found" and natural materials. We have metal sculptures by local artist Stan Smokler, folk quilts and fabric tapestries, fun pop art, bronze work by the noted sculptor Elbert Weinberg, kinetic wall art and a range of drawings and paintings — from the young artists at Camp Dreamcatcher (a local not-for-profit) to our neighbor Margo Allman to Brandywine Valley's own Andrew Wyeth. In total, we have hundreds of original pieces from all types of artists in our community and around the world. It is our hope that these creative works will amaze, inspire and entertain everyone who finds their way to us!
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