(written by Felicia Yu; photos by Ashby Leavell)
Part of the purpose of the Environmental Impact team is to equip the Fellows with a sustainability-focused mindset and the knowledge of how sustainability can be practiced in all kinds of settings, from our normal sphere of public gardens to places of business unrelated to horticulture (or only just barely).
Newly renovated living wall in the Dansko lobby
For our first spring EI field trip on April 18, Ashby Leavell, Raakel Toppila, Kate Baltzell, and I made the short drive to Jennersville, PA, to see the Dansko shoe company headquarters, where environmental sustainability is just a part of an overall philosophy of doing things the right way whenever possible.
Rain chains adorn the exterior of the company store
Our enthusiastic tour guide and director of facilities at Dansko, Daria Payne, led us around their LEED Gold-certified facility and pointed out all the features that contributed not only to a smaller eco-footprint but also to the well-being of the employees. Wherever there was an opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of the building, the multi-use capacity of its rooms, or the quality of the indoor environment, Dansko took it and ran with it. Office furniture and cubicle walls were made to be portable and reconfigurable. “Smart” lighting adjusts automatically to the amount of daylight coming in through the many, many double-paned argon-filled windows. The outdoor landscaping, from three different living roofs to the rain gardens in and around the parking lot, incorporates thoughtful storm water management practices along with capturing and reusing rainwater for irrigation and the building’s toilets.
Daria explaining the features of the new product development space
One of three living roofs; this one includes a patio and shade structure for employee gatherings
Amid all the environmentally friendly features of the campus, the human aspect of the environment is never neglected. Art works from local artists and often made from found materials decorate even the least public areas of the building. A living wall in the lobby and indoor plants everywhere improve the air quality and create a more homelike atmosphere. Enclosed offices and meeting rooms toward the outside of the building have glass walls in order to share the natural light with workspaces in the interior. The company also encourages philanthropy in all its employees by allowing them up to sixteen hours of paid volunteering time with organizations of their own choosing, and the value of their contribution is matched by the company. (Is anyone else starting to feel tempted to put in a job application?)
What was destined for a storage room became a comfortable library for employees at the insistence of Dansko co-founder Mandy Cabot
Our entertaining and enlightening visit ended with—what else—shopping!
How could we not?
Many thanks to Daria and Dansko for a fantastic morning and many lessons learned about running a business profitably AND sustainably.
The group with Daria in the company store. And no, we didn’t arrange ourselves in that order on purpose!