Herman Miller’s Greenhouse project, lead by William McDonough, is one of the early examples of truly effective sustainable building projects. Built in 1993, the building features 295,000 square feet of factory and office space near Herman Miller’s Headquarters in western Michigan. By this time in 1993, Herman Miller had already established itself as a forward thinking, environmentally conscious company. In the early 1980’s, the company had already begun investigating issues dealing with sustainable wood products and forestry, and indoor air quality issues that were arising in their facilities. Also, in 1984, after deciding to no longer use rosewood in their signature Eames chair (rosewood being a rare breed of trees which only grows in endangered tropical rainforests), Herman Miller received public acclaim for this radical move.
The purpose of the Greenhouse project was to provide a refined and sophisticated, yet pleasing space for all the workers, including those in the offices and those in the factory setting, and to have ample amounts of fresh air and sunlight. There was to be easy navigation between all the parts of the complex, as to have a very open environment, and a direct link with the natural environment that the building is situated in. This would require having “natural features such as wetlands and swales that purify storm water runoff” as well as “providing habitat for local birds, flowers and grasses”. The result would be as follows: “A measured increase in productivity, a measured increase in the degree of job satisfaction, and a measured array of positive social and ecological impacts.”
The building project went on to win Business Weeks’ first ever “Good Design is Good Business” award for its achievements, which were not only environmentally beneficial, but also economically sound as well.
For More information on this project: