History Green Leader
Metropolis Magazine|June 2019
History Green Leader

Spread out on a field in Michigan, Herman Miller’s GreenHouse facility helped popularize sustainable building practices.

Ken Shulman

In the early 1990s the green-building industry in the United States was still in its infancy, lagging behind Europe. It was then that the manufacturing heavyweight Herman Miller decided to build a new facility for its subsidiary SQA (Simple, Quick, Affordable). A buyback program that purchased and refurbished used office furniture and sold it to small and medium-size businesses, SQA was growing fast and was ready to shed its digs.

The strategy to build anew—and do so sustainably—“best reflected the character of our company,” says Ed Nagelkirk, a project manager with the Herman Miller facilities management team at the time of construction and today the company’s senior workplace strategy and facilities manager.

Completed in 1995, the 295,000-squarefoot building that would eventually be called the GreenHouse remains a milestone in workplace and environmental design. Set on a 37-acre site in Holland, Michigan, the GreenHouse incorporated elements that helped set the standards for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification, including stormwater management, a robust air-filtering system, operable windows, and 66 skylights that pour daylight onto the manufacturing floor.

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June 2019