The Case for Comfort
By Shive Hattery
It’s been said that a company's culture is a product of its values, expectations, and environment—after all, clients rarely love a company if the employees don’t love it first. Forward-looking companies place an emphasis on creating nurturing employee environments by providing more livable, tech-friendly, and enjoyable workspaces. This investment in employee-centric spaces promotes productivity, improves customer service, and reduces costly staff turnover.
In an effort to create modern, sought-after workplaces, companies are opting for office designs that favor openness and foster collaboration. While open workplace design has many tangible benefits, it isn’t without drawbacks such as thermal comfort—this was the case for Dupaco Community Credit Union.
As part of past marketing and rebranding efforts, Dupaco recently remodeled and built several new offices. While these new spaces are attractive, engaging, and visually convey Dupaco’s brand and corporate values, the updated aesthetics produced some unintended consequences that proved to be unpleasant for workers and customers. Large open spaces with limited internal walls combined with generous contemporary windows created sun glare and solar heat gain issues.
When it came time to build a new facility in Marion, Shive-Hattery worked closely with Dupaco staff to develop solutions that would resolve the frustrations encountered in previous designs. Understanding that the climate control systems were struggling to maintain comfortable and stable office temperatures, Shive-Hattery devised several energy model solutions paired with internal and external sun-shading concepts. An assortment of building orientations were explored to illustrate mechanical loading and energy modeling calculations supported appropriate system selection. Additionally, solar studies depicted the sun’s path and allowed architects to minimize glare in the building, especially in areas where clients would interact with the staff. As the possibilities were analyzed, it became apparent that a dynamic window tinting solution would be the preferred method to minimize glare issues. Although not the least expensive option, Dupaco selected SageGlass—an electrochromic glass that automatically changes tint levels depending on sunlight intensity.
Dupaco’s belief in people before profit is fueled by an intense desire to help their members. By putting their employees and clients first, they were able to create an environment that supports the aspirations and goals of their community, provides comfort and convenience, and generates excitement. Companies such as Dupaco, are recognizing the impact a healthy workplace culture has, and the role it plays in the success of the business.