June 1, 2010
New Eco-Friendly, Healthy Office Building in Lake Country Helps Raise the Bar
Lake Country, British Columbia - The owners of Beelineweb.com decided to focus on the bigger picture when considering where and how to build a new office for their growing online search marketing firm. With climate change making an impact in the Okanagan, they knew anything they built had to be energy efficient, water wise and respectful of local conditions. So rather than add to the Okanagan's urban sprawl with more run-of-the-mill construction, Lauren Gaglardi, president, and Ched Gaglardi, CEO, set out to limit the company's environmental footprint, create a positive workplace for their employees and help establish a regionally appropriate architectural legacy for their community.
"We wanted to stay true to our values - acting in a caring and responsible manner for our people and our environment," said Lauren. "We really felt like we had an opportunity to set a good example for other businesses. We're just one small company, so if we can do it, then what's stopping larger companies with greater resources?"
They began by choosing the right location. Since Lake Country was already the company's home, it was a natural choice to stay. "We've lived here for almost 19 years," said Ched. "It's quiet and has a real sense of community. Plus, it's central - halfway between two great ski resorts! Why leave?"
But they didn't want to dig up undeveloped land. So they found a site along Highway 97 that was previously used for semi-industrial purposes. It needed a major facelift.
"When you're doing a green building project, the philosophy is 'Why break open virgin ground when you can redevelop and clean up old sites?'" said Jim Meiklejohn, the local architect of Beelineweb.com's new office. "It's the responsible thing to do - find a bad site and make it better."
Jim and his team at Meiklejohn Architects Inc. designed a building that draws inspiration from the area's historical rural buildings and combines simple materials in an authentic and modern way. Completed earlier this year by BPR Construction Ltd., the property maximizes use of environmentally responsible components. Its main structural system is essentially locally sourced wood - unusual for commercial buildings of its size. "So instead of steel or concrete where you're burning carbon dioxide to make the products, wood actually stores carbon dioxide," said Jim. "It's the only carbon sequestering building product."
Inside, the building is full of eco-friendly details like recycled glass countertops, "cradle-to-cradle" carpet tiles, low-flow plumbing fixtures, ultra-efficient hand dryers, window shading made from recycled fabric, photo-sensitive lighting, and bamboo flooring (a rapid-growing, renewable alternative to traditional hardwood). The office is heated and cooled by a geothermal system that uses no ozone-depleting substances. Outside, the landscaping features water-sensible plantings and an organic vegetable garden.
Lauren and Ched also wanted the building to be healthy and enjoyable for their employees - expanding on practices already entrenched in the company like the use of non-toxic cleaners. So the south-facing building was designed to take in plenty of natural light, with every employee having a view to the outside. Good indoor air quality was achieved through the use of features like increased ventilation and paints that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). There is also a well-furnished fitness room onsite, giving each employee the chance to take a paid exercise break during the workday.
"The bottom line is that doing business has got to be about more than making money," said Lauren. "For us, it's also about treating people and our environment with care and due regard for their health and sustainability. We want our community to be proud to have us here." Lauren and Ched both said the extra effort has been worth it.
About Beelineweb.com Beelineweb.com is a family-run company specializing, since 2001, in the online generation of high-quality student enrollment leads for post-secondary institutions throughout North America. The company began providing search engine marketing services in 1999. Located in Lake Country, British Columbia, Beelineweb.com aims to integrate the prosperity of the company with ethical business practices and the well-being of its employees, community and surrounding environment.
For more information about Beelineweb.com, please visit www.beelineweb.com.