People Power

Committed to Sustainability: Selecting Furniture with the Environment in Mind

By August 30, 2018 No Comments

When AGU decided to renovate our headquarters to meet net zero energy goals, we wanted to make sure sustainability was incorporated across the project. For us, this meant ensuring not only that we considered re-using and repurposing materials and furniture from the old building into the new design but making sure our new furniture met certain sustainability requirements.

In previous blog posts, we have discussed upcycling conference chairs for our conference center by re-upholstering them and shared how we ground up old glass, granite and ceramic plumbing features (toilets and sinks) to create new terrazzo flooring. This same mixture will also be used to top the table in our Prow conference room—a room where we often host our Board of Directors and many committee meetings. There are also going to be benches and screens on the Lower Level that have been remade from paneling from our old building.

Beyond these creative reuse strategies for furniture, our open concept office space also required new furniture that allows us to take advantage of natural light throughout the space thanks to energy-saving features like our SageGlass windows. For our new furniture needs, which included staff workstations, some conference and team room spaces, as well as furniture for lounge areas—we worked largely with Teknion, a furniture manufacturer with a similar commitment to sustainability. They understood our commitment to not just going net zero but also reducing our environmental footprint in other ways. Teknion has worked with other sustainable building projects like the Bullitt Center.


A chart showing the embodied energy of AGU workstations which totals 1270,5 gigajoules.

Image courtesy of Teknion

Throughout the selection and manufacturing process, we selected products that reflected the overall goals of the project and paid close attention to the total environmental footprint of products from raw materials through delivery. This meant looking at the embodied energy, which is a metric used to understand a products environmental impact by measuring the sum of energy needed to produce a product, as well as the carbon impacts.

With a net zero energy building, we can incorporate these metrics later into understanding our building’s carbon emissions and a more holistic view of the environmental impact. We will assess how well we have met our goals by conducting a whole-building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that will determine the building’s lifetime environmental impact. As part of that impact assessment, Teknion is providing us with sustainability data for each furniture component that is being installed into our building and we hope to share more information on our website in the future.