by Jessica Estes, CBRE | The Boulos Company
In the fourth of a 6-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation. MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact and job creation. Please join with us in celebrating the Synergy Center – IDEXX World Headquarters Building in Westbrook.
MEREDA: Describe the building and project.
- New construction
- Three story
- Gross building area – 107,000 square feet
- Highly efficient, green building design and construction
- U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) – LEED Gold Certified building (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design)
- Open collaborative office spaces on 2nd and 3rd floors
- Wellness Center including a fitness area and on-site health clinic on the 1st floor
- Multiple conference rooms on the 1st floor with state of the art technology
- Full dining facilities on the 1st floor serving healthy breakfast and lunches which include entrees, fresh salads, pizza, grab and go sandwiches and many other options.
MEREDA: What was the impetus for this project?
- Corporate growth, increased head count driving need for more space
- Secondary Need: Improved workspace flexibility, greater collaboration, faster decision making.
- Benefits of the new way of working:
- Enables leadership to be more accessible to their teams, strengthening relationships through a continuous stream of conversation.
- Allows for more rapid exchange of knowledge and information, enhancing our ability to innovate with intelligence.
- Places even greater emphasis on mutual respect, open-mindedness, and the willingness and ability to work together to share ideas.
- Stimulates better communication, leading to process change, greater speed of decision-making, providing greater business alignment to exceed the expectations of our customers.
MEREDA: That sounds like quite a process. How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?
- Conceptual planning for the new Synergy Center started roughly in early 2009, construction finally started April 2012. A total of 3+ years of planning prior to construction
- Multiple concepts were created before settling on current design
- Extensive use of Steering Committees throughout the planning stage
MEREDA: Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.
- Economic uncertainty early on in conceptual planning delayed progress
- Understanding and communicating the new concept of open collaborative office environments to future occupants
- Culture Change –enhancing overall work experience – improving employees productivity through personal choice and flexibility; strengthening retention by creating opportunities to connect with the community through volunteerism and maintain a healthy lifestyle through access to an onsite wellness center (fitness & health clinic)
- The design and construction of the building to green building standards and securing LEED gold certification
- Recovering from a catastrophic air handling unit leak that caused major damage to a nearly complete building (3 weeks before move-in) and to complete it on time
MEREDA: Something unexpected you learned along the way was….
- The cost of constructing a green building in comparison to standard building construction is presumably higher but we found this not to be the case. Through hard work, innovative design and alternative construction materials and techniques we were able to build a LEED gold certified building at only a fraction above normal office building costs.
MEREDA: Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable?
- The building is very open and includes large expanses of exterior window systems. Natural light and outside views are by far the most notable features of the building.
- While the LEED program is a reflection of the tangible elements of the project, what’s remarkable about IDEXX is the developments in sustainability that this project represents.
- IDEXX employees have raised bed plantings with fruits and vegetables on 2,100 sf/% of their total land area. All grown and maintained by IDEXX teams, these gardens contribute over 1,000 lbs of fresh food to local food banks yearly.
- IDEXX also collaborates with local CSA farmers to connect employees with local food growers, and the Wellness Center provides education, workout classes and facilities for employee health and fitness. These are not LEED credit requirements, but are the hallmark of a wonderful organization showing how sustainability is more than good for the bottom line.
- The Synergy Center now serves as a shining beacon of what’s most important to Maine, our land, our people, our communities and our economy.