The American Family Insurance Group is planning to complete its first LEED office in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in August. The current building—built in three phases in 1977, 1980, and 1988—had not been updated in years, and components were at the end of their useful life, says Cindy Glaeden-Knott, manager of design and construction.
Given that this was American Family’s first large real estate project in many years, the company also wanted to align the remodel with the company’s commitment to its brand and to sustainability. “An investment in our people is a key part of how we do business, and we wanted to maximize that investment by creating a workplace environment that is inspiring and protective,” Glaeden-Knott says.
Employees in American Family’s Eden Prairie office
Square footage of the insurance company’s existing building
Percent of construction waste recycled during the renovation
Minneapolis-based RJM Construction began remodeling the 208,000-square-foot space in October 2013. The $12.5 million project, being completed in as many as 10 phases, involves replacing major systems, including HVAC and lighting, and updating finishes and furniture. When complete, it is expected to achieve LEED-NC certification under version 3.0, an achievement based on notable improvements in energy, water, and recycling.
Modeling shows that the building will be more than 10 percent more efficient than base, allowing for at least two LEED credits, and will use 35 percent less water, thanks to remodeled restrooms with low-flow fixtures. American Family also expects to recycle more than 90 percent of demolition and construction waste, thanks to tracking via an online software program.
“We’re having every item that leaves the site in any of the five major construction-material streams—metals, drywall, masonry, cardboard, and wood—tracked,” says LeeAnn Glover, director of real estate and planning. “So if three doors go out on the back of a pickup truck, we know if they’re being repurposed in the community.”
Despite the extensive changes, the remodel preserved 45 percent of open space. The 14-acre campus already had 40 varieties of trees and a trail system, around which American Family based a wellness program and an annual 3K run. Deer and turkey are frequently sighted on campus, and last year, a family of great horned owls nested 10 feet from office windows. “We’re proud that as an organization, we’re creating views and access to nature and the well-being that comes from that,” Glover says.
When the project is complete, Glover and her team will bring it full circle by engaging the 650 employees who are working in the Eden Prairie office during the remodel with the sustainability efforts. “Before we started the project, we asked employees what sustainable elements were important to them,” says Beth Churchill, the company’s workplace sustainability specialist. “And to show them what we did, we’ve created an artwork installation consisting of LEED-related posters hung throughout the building. It’s a good way to finish the package.”