A crafty green building for Etsy

by Tania Wannenburg
A crafty green building for Etsy

Etsy’s new headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, was strongly influenced by the company culture and is mainly furnished with handmade and micro-manufactured furniture made by local artists and Etsy sellers.For Etsy, a peer-to-peer e-commerce company selling handmade or vintage items, social, environmental and business goals are inseparable. This is why the company took on the Living Building Challenge to create an office building in keeping with global best practices and standards for sustainability.

In pursuit of a Petal Certification through the Living Building Challenge (LBC), more than 1 500 items were vetted to avoid toxic or harmful chemicals in the new headquarters in Brooklyn, New York – that is at least 1 500 conversations with manufacturers about how items were made.

Bolstering company culture
To craft a building that is perfectly suited to the nature of the company’s work and which supports employees’ working styles and overall well-being, Etsy used direct feedback from its more than 850 employees to design a space that is open and inspiring, with dedicated areas that allow for collaboration and creativity, as well as focus and privacy.

The Green Library is a quiet, relaxing, brightly-lit and plant-filled space where employees can work away from their desks.
© Emily Andrews

The new headquarters boasts employee wellness areas such as a quiet, green library and a breathing room for meditation and yoga, as well as bike storage areas and showers to support a carbon-neutral commute and multiple outdoor spaces such as a rooftop garden. Also on the roof, a small, solar array was installed. In fact, 100% of the energy powering Etsy’s new global head office is expected to come from local, renewable solar power.

Another goal was to foster an inclusive culture where all staff members can engage. To this end, gender-inclusive restrooms and parents’ rooms were created.

Food programme
In line with Etsy’s Global Food Programme to nourish employees and building community through food, the robust production kitchen at the new headquarters has roughly five times the seating capacity as before, to make a twice-weekly communal meal called Eatsy possible.

Etsy partners with local caterers to provide responsibly-sourced lunches to employees twice a week and on the other days, employees are encouraged to connect with and support the many local businesses in the neighbourhood.

Art installations crafted by local artists and designers. On the left is an art installation by Brooklyn-based designers First Third, made from old desks from Etsy’s previous headquarters. On the rights is a wall mural by Brooklyn-based artist Misha Tyutyunik.
© Emily Andrews

Artsy like Etsy
The space further reflects the vibrancy of the community, and is currently the only LBC project that’s largely furnished with handmade and micro-manufactured furniture made by local artists and Etsy sellers.

The building also allows greater accessibility and connection with the general public through the ground-floor lobby that features an art gallery showcasing the work of more than 250 Etsy sellers from across the globe.

Encouraging the maker movement
Etsy has also expanded its events spaces, including a re-imagination of the Etsy Labs, which now include specialty stations for many kinds of making and where hands-on programmes are hosted and shared with larger groups.

The public-speaking space, called the Etsytorium, has also been expanded to bring public-facing speaking events, such as Etsy’s Code as Craft speaker series, to more people.

According to Josh Wise, global director of workplace ecology and design at Etsy, acknowledging and supporting employees’ health and wellness needs help to integrate personal and professional lives harmoniously. “The thoughtful, meticulous work that so many have put into this space is meant to reinforce our belief that nurturing the health of our employees and the ecosystems that support us ultimately nurtures the health of our business,” he says.

Full thanks and acknowledgment are given to Etsy for the information given to write this article.

The Living Building Challenge
Living buildings are classified as those that are:
•    Regenerative and connect occupants to light, air, food, nature and community.
•    Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site.
•    Create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.

Caption (MAIN PICTURE): The exterior of the Etsytorium, a public-speaking space where Etsy hosts larger meetings and presentations as well as internal and external speaker series, features art installation made by New York-based designers Michael Szivos and Liz Kelsey of SOFTlab.

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