Location Skaneateles Falls, NY
Size 160,000 ft²
Program Office space, meeting rooms, lobby, cafeteria, fitness center
The health-care product and technology provider Welch Allyn always has focused on helping people help others, but when it came to remodeling its headquarters in Skaneateles Falls, New York, the 100-year-old company had a rare opportunity to directly help one specific entity—the environment. In recognition of the company’s commitment, the new building recently was awarded LEED-NC Gold certification, earning 43 points under version 2.2, currently the highest point total earned by any manufacturer in the state of New York according to the USGBC website.
The quest began in 2007 as a simple addition to the 30-plus-year-old building, but it quickly transitioned to a complete remodel. “This was an opportunity to have the building better match what we feel is our company culture and brand meaning, as well as provide an outstanding work environment for our employees,” says Scott Spanfelner, director of operations at Welch Allyn.
Layout and lighting were the two most visually altered components of the project. What used to be a typical 1980s rectangular building filled with cubicles, stuffy hallways, and dark rooms, has been transformed through predominantly glass walls, sky lighting, and lighting controls. “When customers visited, they were presented with a lot of walls and hallways and really could not get a sense of all that went on here or the dynamics of the company,” Spanfelner says. Now, guests enter through a lobby and are transitioned into an atrium where they can see a variety of functions from one vantage point, such as the manufacturing floor, customer service area, product development, and open conference rooms. Everyone in the building has access to natural light through perimeter glass, skylights, and strategically placed hallways.
Certification LEED Gold
Site Preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles
Water Low-flow fixtures and waterless systems in bathrooms and cafeteria
Materials Recycled 70% of construction debris, recycled content in 25% of building materials
Energy Lighting controls, reflective roof materials
Landscape No irrigation required, 100 mature trees relocated
“We developed what we call the baseline energy model,” Spanfelner says. “We took the original design of the building and used that model to make choices. Every time we made choices regarding window glass or roof treatment or ceiling tiles or lighting systems, we put that data back into the same model, and it would output what our improved efficiencies would be, which ultimately led to the exceptional results we are getting from an energy consumption perspective.”
Partnering with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Lighting Research Center, the company added sensors to all lighting systems that perceive the amount of natural light coming into the building; the electric lights automatically turn up and down accordingly. “It not only saves energy but creates a nice even lighting condition throughout the space,” Spanfelner explains. “Our central atrium is about 11,000 square feet, and there is hardly a light bulb on in there. Even on a cloudy day, the skylights give you a great lighting situation.”
One of the most unique features of the renovation are the light shelves that are mounted to the exterior glass. These redirect light that would otherwise be disruptive onto highly reflective ceiling tiles, filling the space with light—no blinds necessary. “They had to study where the sun was at all times during the day throughout the year to design these shelves so they are optimally located,” Spanfelner says. In the summer, the light is reflected more to save energy on air-conditioning, and in the winter, the light is soaked into the building to create natural heat.
As a bonus to the healthful, daylit new headquarters, the LEED requirements helped Welch Allyn reassess its environmental contribution. “It made us think more broadly about environmental responsibility,” Spanfelner says. “It was a way to continually help us measure where we were throughout the process.”