There are Greenpeace offices in 40 countries spanning six continents, all dedicated to preserving the future of our planet. Greenpeace relies on individuals to make the changes needed and is backed by 2.8 million supporters worldwide, but change always begins at home. The Washington D.C office has taken many green initiatives towards becoming more sustainable and practicing what they preach.
Sustainable architecture is about "taking less from the Earth and giving more to people." Its goal is to decrease the detrimental environmental issues surrounding buildings by amplifying efficiency and promoting the conservation of resources. The various construction benefits include reduced maintenance costs and the creation of a healthier living environment
In its Washington office, Greenpeace started undertaking "green" renovations in 1999 to create a more open and interactive floor planing using the latest sustainable building components. Not only does the office have a dynamic design, but it also engages multiple alternative energy sources to generate a large portion of the power supply.
Green is Power
On warm sunny days, nobody likes to be stuck in the office. People flock out of their buildings to head anywhere that they can take solace in the warm sunshine. A popular place to do this in the Washington office is the building's roof. But if you ever get a chance to go up there you'll notice that the roof looks a little different than most, it's covered in solar panels.
These beloved solar panels are ten years old and still kickin.' They provide the office with hot water and generate supplemental electrical power to the office. Solar panels harness one of the Earth's most renewable resources…the sun. The sun is never going to run out, so there is no need to worry about depleting its supply. It requires very little maintenance and has long term price benefits. Once they have been installed, there are no electrical costs; there is no price tag on sunlight.
Which is probably why the office takes advantage of natural light. An open floorplan allows light to stream in through floor-to-ceiling windows, reducing the need for lightbulbs. And to go the extra mile, sensors have been installed in the ceiling to automatically adjust overhead lights down to take full advantage of incoming natural light on sunny days.
And it Looks Good Too
Just because something is environmentally friendly doesn't mean it has to be unattractive. There are many ways to go green without losing the aesthetic appeal.
Greenpeace's gleaming office floors are made from 100 percent-reclaimed wood that is recycled and salvaged from buildings in the area. What little new wood there is comes from sustainable forests. The carpets are the first ever completely recyclable carpets. They can be taken out and recycled again to make a whole new carpet.
The cabinets are bamboo, the ceiling is made of recycled gypsum board, and the walls are painted a cheery yellow using paints that do not emit volatile organic compounds. From bottom to top, the office has an organic and pleasant look.
Give the Earth a Voice
It's time to help give back to the earth. Sustainable architecture is designed to utilize what nature gives us rather than waste it. The DC Greenpeace office takes this to heart and will continually look for ways to improve the way the office operates to ensure it's the greenest way possible. You can learn more about ways to "go green" and improve your ecological footprint by using the Greenpeace Green Guide.