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Being Green Makes Work Life at Genzyme a Dream

Posted by Devin Cole  May 9, 2012 12:32 PM

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Since Boston is a hub for green technology, I thought it would be interesting to see how being green enhances work life by focusing on Genzyme's award-winning, environmentally responsible corporate headquarters in Cambridge.

Rick Mattila, Director of Environmental Affairs at Genzyme shared his knowledge by giving me a "blow your mind" tour of the building. Rick has been a key player in developing Genzyme's environment for over 20 years, both locally and internationally, while Genzyme had evolved into becoming one of the largest biotechnology companies worldwide. Last year, Genzyme was acquired by the pharmaceutical company Sanofi and is now a Sanofi company.


Genzyme's Atrium

I was interested in knowing how green tech design affects Genzyme's staff and the community at large. Rick's passions happen to lean towards how the building impacts people including patients, employees and community. These were his thoughts.

"The transparent nature of the building was purposeful in enhancing visual communication among employees within the building, making it easier to have spontaneous meetings. It also provides employees with views to the outside environment (enhancing their well-being) and to the community to reinforce that connection. From the outside, neighbors can see in and get a sense of our openness and transparency as a corporation. Having a green building that reduces the impact on the environment follows our safety and environmental management statement that includes: We want our corporate and residential neighbors to be proud to have Genzyme in their communities.

The tour program that we instituted provides an open invitation to the local and broader community to come into our building and experience its green design features. It also provides an opportunity for the architectural, engineering and construction industry professionals and students in those fields to observe this unique green building. We want others to see the design and hopefully inspire them to think deeply about the designs of their own buildings. It is apparently working as Genzyme Center was chosen in a 2010 survey of green building experts by Architecture Magazine, as the third most important green building in the world."

As we stood on the top floor overlooking the 12-story atrium and the magnificent mirrored mobile that helps control light, employees were all around us having meetings in this fluid open space. Even though we were standing close by, I couldn't hear a sound. There were no distractions, no walls or barriers and the environment seemed so stimulating and beautiful, almost like being in a contemporary art museum. Approximately 75% of employees have access to natural light or views to the outdoors and from what I am told, the building yields 42% savings in electricity costs. The light enhancement system brings natural light in through mirrors that are completely automated and track the movement of the sun across the sky. The fixed mirrors, in return, reflect light to multiple prismatic louvers which fill the atrium with this light. Perhaps more information than you need to know and way better to see it in person. This design allows all people to enjoy daylight while indoors without having to think about it. What a positive healthy atmosphere to get inspired and to create and interact in while working towards improving the lives of patients worldwide."

If you have an interest in the environment, green tech or simply seeing a stunning building, I highly suggest taking a free tour of the facility. The LEED Platinum rated Genzyme Center plays host to over 900 of the biotech company’s employees and around 25,000 people have passed through on group tours since the building opened in 2004. You will see great art, extensive indoor gardens, and incredible architecture. The building was designed by Behnisch, Behnisch, and Partners out of Venice, California.

Genzyme is a slice of the multitude of ways greater Boston demonstrates being a global leader within the green innovation movement and a great place to work.

Rick will be retiring after 20 years from Genzyme. Genzyme's headquarters is a testament to the impact he has had during his career there.

Cheryl Meyerson is founder of new city, INC which helps companies, non profits and individuals transition into the greater Boston area. Check out new city, INC's blog the bean.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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