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Old green meets new green – and workers get a biophilic benefit

We think of green building and biophilic surroundings in workplaces as a modern and enlightened concept. For the most part, they are. But the new location for LPL Financial in Fort Mill, South Carolina is actually a respectful echo to a company that had similar sentiments as far back as 1938.

As I wrote about in American Builders Quarterly, the growing financial services firm, based in San Diego, is taking a decidedly eco-friendly approach to its offices. Their LEED Platinum headquarters is believed to be the largest net-zero commercial building in the country. And what’s under construction (due for completion in 2016) today in Fort Mill is nestled between 2,100 acres of nature preserve and a village commons-style commercial area, accessible via a 600-foot walking path.

LPL will seek LEED certification in the Fort Mill facility, with features such as water reuse, retention ponds, and heat-reducing overhangs and orientation, as well as the employee-friendly natural surroundings that provide verdant views and ample outdoor walking opportunities. But the existence of a conservation easement – the 2100 acres of nature preserve administered by Leroy Springs & Company and called the Anne Springs Close Greenway – provides evidence of a surprisingly enlightened former employer on the same parcel of land.

Leroy Springs & Company was a textile manufacturing facility, now closed, that was run by a benevolent owner who believed in employee recreation. After offshoring their operations, The Springs Close Foundation has furthered the legacy with a low-impact recreational, preservation and educational center, in addition to a scholarship loan program. With the addition of more than 1,000 employees in the immediately adjacent LPL Financial offices, the Greenway will likely receive many more visitors who view vegetation, habitat and recreation as a way to recharge their workday.

Russ Klettke is a business writer with a passion for sustainability and innovation. His experience is broad, ranging from financial services to law, architecture, product design and manufacturing, nutrition, fitness and general wellness and more. Contact him to discuss how communications can help you meet your business goals.

Rendering: LPL Financial broke ground on this facility in early 2015, with completion slated for 2016. The upper and lower ponds fronting the building are part stormwater retention and part building aesthetics, and may be used for heat-rejecting pumps in the building's mechanical air cooling system. Green space surrounding the building is being designed to encourage outdoor recreation for employees.

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Russ Klettke

Business Writer

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