AGU plans to move back into the building in late spring/early summer of this year. As excitement builds, Caitlyn Camacho, Program Manager, Strategic Communications, interviewed AGU employees about which building design features they are most excited for, how the new space will impact their work, and what striving to reach a net zero energy goal means to them. Their responses are below and have been edited for clarity and length.
Michelle Brown (MB), Conference Services Coordinator
Antonio Covington (AC), Program Specialist, Honors
Erik Hankin (EH), Student and Career Programs Manager
Deborah Muckle (DM), Project Manager
Paige Wooden (PW), Senior Program Manager, Publications
Q: How long have you worked at AGU?
MB: 28 years.
AC: I’ve been employed at AGU since May of 2010.
EH: I’ve been working for AGU for 6 and a half years. Prior to working for AGU, I was an AGU member.
DM: I’ve worked at AGU for a little over 4 years. I just had my anniversary in mid-December 2017. Time flies when you’re having fun!
PW: June 2018 will be my 10-year service anniversary! Time flies!
Q: What floor / area of the original 2000 Florida Avenue building did you work on?
MB: I was moved around a bit. The 3rd floor and 4th floor, then ground floor.
AC: I started on the 4th floor when I worked in the Member Services department. I moved upstairs to the 5th floor when I started working in the Science department.
EH: 5th floor. First with the Public Affairs Department and then with the Science Department.
DM: I worked on the ground level, along with the Information Services/Business Data and Intelligence teams. I thoroughly enjoyed working with those teams.
PW: I was on the 3rd floor to start, then moved to the 4th floor open space.
Q: What do you think of the new staff space? Anything you are especially excited about?
MB: Just the overall change of the space will be nice. We will have more room than we all expected.
AC: I think the design is very fresh and modern. While the space is open, it still provides an element of privacy. I really like the fact that more natural sunlight will be allowed in. I’m really excited about the new rooftop area. I cannot wait to check it out!
EH: I really like the new layout for these floors. I am especially excited about the natural sunlight and “friendlier” work environment. Break down those cubicles!
DM: I am so excited about working in our new building and am looking forward to experiencing the new staff spaces. I think it has enhanced my work experience being able to surround myself with different co-workers.
PW: I’m excited about the multi-use space and having more space than the current configuration. I am also excited about having our own personal spaces. I’m looking forward to putting up my nephew’s preschool picture.
Q: As an employee of an organization that strives to ensure a sustainable future through collaboration and communication, what does the net zero goal mean to you?
MB: We will be using natural sources to power our building, as much as we can, as well as going green a little more than we are now.
EH: I think the mere fact that we are striving for that goal is commendable and in line with our organizational values and our members’ values.
DM: The net zero goal means cultivating a work ethic and behavioral culture that protects the environment and those around me. It means taking care of the elements that make this world livable. I am so happy to be part of this cause and wholeheartedly appreciate the opportunity to do my part.
PW: The net-zero goal is really important to me: be the change you wish to see in the world. Most people know that’s a quote from Gandhi, and it’s not a coincidence that we share the same birthday (well, maybe it is a coincidence). I aim to live a more sustainable lifestyle by eating a dairy- and meat-free diet, commuting by bike, and using as few disposable products (and plastic!) as possible. It’s great that my life at work will make this lifestyle easier and even enhance it. I’m proud of the good example we are to other organizations and to the community.
Q: What is one building design feature you are most excited to see at work in the new building?
AC: I’m most excited to see both the hy-phy green wall, and the new center staircase. I am a plant lover. Plants contribute much to our Earth. My mother kept plants in our home and I developed a love for plants. This would be an added bonus in that it will add a level of color and freshness to the building. The stairs, I think, will be a huge hit. It supports having an open air concept and it encourages physical activity among the building inhabitants. The center staircase will also aid in giving people options as it pertains to travel between floors—especially when an elevator catches a cold (lol).
EH: I’m super excited for the hy-phy green wall. The cleaner air will be great, but I also think it will be really eye-catching and memorable to our visitors.
DM: The hy-phy green wall and the exhibit space. What a showplace our office will be!
PW: I’m most looking forward to the hydroponic wall—it will be nice to have more green around. Maybe I’ll even be in a cubicle where I can place and care for a plant of my very own. I’m not good at watering, so perhaps a succulent will be appropriate.
Editor’s note: This may sound strange but I’m looking forward to seeing the municipal sewer heat exchange at work. I think it’s so cool that the project team found this internationally used technology (but new to the U.S.) to incorporate into our building. Also, I can’t wait to go back and see how all the recycled materials like the toilet and glass terrazzo and the old wall panels are re-used in the brand new design.
Q: How will the collaborative 21st century workplace open concept design positively contribute to the work you do at AGU?
EH: The concept design will help us bridge department silos and create potentially transformative programs.
DM: It will allow for interactions between departments and staff I didn’t have in our old building.
PW: It definitely helps to increase discussion and communication. We’re a big team in Publications, and having the opportunity for informal conversations helps build relationships and makes coming to work pleasurable. I also think that everyone having a space of their own to call home will be nice.
Q: What is one aspect of the new building that you’re aware of that might be the biggest adjustment? How do you look forward to creatively addressing the adjustment?
MB: [The open floor plan.] I think the change started at the temporary location. It’s a work location not home; I think a lot of people have to understand that. But in all, I think the work space will be nice. Especially now that we’re used to the open space.
EH: The need to be conscious of my energy and water usage at the office (where I don’t pay the utilities) will be new. I hope I will learn some techniques to take home too though.
DM: The biggest adjustment, for me, will be adjusting to the open office structure and not sitting directly with my team. As a project manager, I will live with the members of my largest projects, for ease of work. Although this will be an adjustment, I look forward to collaborating with differing departments. The ability to learn how others work, while also being able to obtain quick feedback from project teams, will be an exciting new change.