Mary Grauerholz

This article was originally published as "Living Lab" in the March/April issue of USGBC+. Read the original version.

Monica Brogan, manager of sales support at CertainTeed Corporation, knew she had a crackerjack team. But when her department moved last October to the new North American headquarters of CertainTeed’s parent company, Saint-Gobain, she was in for a shock. 

The move, from the company’s former headquarters in Valley Forge, Pa., to nearby Malvern, turned out to be a game changer. “We can actually go back and see that the week we moved in there was a huge shift,” Brogan says. “Our performance has increased 150 percent since last year.” 

Brogan’s voice carried a note of happy disbelief. “We’ve double- and triple-checked the numbers,” she says with a light laugh. The steep uptick, Brogan attests, had to be the new quarters: its open, collaborative setting, air that simply smells and feels better, lighting without glare, and a high-tech noise-reduction system. The staff is more engaged and more collaborative. As Brogan says, “They’re just more energized.” 

Today Saint-Gobain’s sleek new $80 million headquarters, which replaced a dilapidated abandoned life insurance company center, is awash in natural light, filled with the scent of clean air, and almost noiseless—all of it centered on an open architectural plan where the 800-plus employees have a view of the outdoors. The 320,000-square-foot headquarters debuted on October 15, 2015, the same day that Saint-Gobain was founded 350 years ago by King Louis XIV of France, when he oversaw the construction of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.

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