Off the GRID
There is a lot of attention given to a new green LEED building, but to truly make a building green is to take a structure and improve both the way its inhabitants use the space as well as its overall environmental performance.
When we set out to buy a new facility for our company Sensory Environment Design (SED), we had no idea we’d be rehabilitating a paint factory. However, it was always a plan to really put into practice the beliefs that guide the environmental design services we provide our clients. Our company is a high-service, design-oriented technology integrator that works with companies and individuals to design technology-rich environments and experiences.
After working out of a rented office and warehouse for five years, we started looking for a place to turn into a showcase for the technology and best practices we recommend our clients integrate and implement. We were adamant that we wanted a building within the city limits of Minneapolis, near the Greenway (a bike path that runs through the entire city) with a loading dock and space for a shop floor on the same level. I informed our realtor that the space did not need to be in a high traffic area as our business was more from word-of-mouth referrals than retail.
After 18 months of searching, we bought our new building for almost $300,000 less than the previous year’s price. It’s a single-story, block/stucco building that was partially rented and partially vacant. The vacant part used to be a paint factory and still had a full, built-in paint booth. Overall it was in rough shape and had an awkward entrance with no curb appeal at all.
We decided right away to completely gut and redo the building the right way. The smart financial move would have been to move in and operate the business at half the monthly payment of the previous space. In fact, all our financial advisors strongly recommended not investing in the building and to start running the business first to generate income. However, we had a long term vision for the business and the building so we put off short term cash flow and bet on the fact that showing the community – designers, architects, customers and neighbors – how to build green in the city would pay off in the long run. And we never strayed from that goal.
Read more: how SED created a truly green space