How Etsy crafted its biophilic headquarters

Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, is known as an antidote to mass-made home furnishings, clothing and gifts. The quirky company experienced major-league growth after it went public in 2016, posting nearly $82 million in revenue in its first quarter with a 19 percent jump in stock price.

Author: Anya Khalamayzer,

The company is determined to help itself, its community and the people affected by its supply chain flower to the fullest potential. So when the time came to move some 800 employees to a new location, Etsy undertook one of its biggest creative challenges yet: working with the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge (LBC) to earn the sought-after "petal" certification.

The Challenge comprises seven performance categories, or petals: place; water; energy; health and happiness; materials; equity; and beauty. Each category is rigorously designed to satisfy the requirements of a "living" building that has a regenerative impact on its natural and social environment. That includes eschewing toxic materials and leaving net-zero impact on energy use and water. Regenerative buildings must look beautiful and make their workers happy, too.

On a recent tour through Etsy’s new 200,000 square-foot headquarters in Brooklyn’s cobblestoned Dumbo neighborhood, a guide said the living building philosophy has a positive impact on employees, who strive for creativity. She said the artisanship that went into building the space makes employees feel more capable. And by keeping people healthy, happy and engaged in their work, they tend to stay longer at the company and be more productive.

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