Founded in 1992, Eco-Energy is an end-to-end midstream alternative energy company, and the No. 1 biofuel logistics and supply-chain company in the world. Following a real estate evaluation, the firm decided to relocate its corporate headquarters to one floor in a first-generation, Class-A office building in the popular Cool Springs area of Franklin, Tennessee. The move would allow the firm to design a space that accommodated rapid growth, collaboration and flexibility, while incorporating technology and the company brand.
GS&P was solicited by Eco-Energy to provide interior design and environmental graphics services for the 32,000-square-foot buildout. Kelly Hodges, vice president of GS&P's Corporate + Urban Design market comments on the firm’s former office space:
“Eco-Energy’s executives and employees were well aware that their previous headquarters didn’t support future growth, work flow, or emphasize the image the company wanted to convey—both internally and externally. The space wasn’t contiguous, and it restricted the various divisions from growing and collaborating. We worked closely with company leadership to understand their goals and vision, and to bring those to life through our design solution.”
An Open, Transparent Layout
Eco-Energy’s previous office environment was divided into suites by solid walls, making it difficult for the various teams to interact. With the entire company situated on one floor, the new headquarters could better embody what had become a much more open and transparent corporate culture.
“The new space features an open floor plan with all-glass front offices and meeting rooms situated along the east and west ends of the building,” explains Hodges. “This allowed the workspace to flow more freely between the different groups within the company, and offered more flexibility for future growth.”
GS&P’s design solution also created clear sight lines across the office, providing access to daylight and views for all employees, and a new transparency between general employees and senior leadership.
“The CEO and CFO still have corner offices, but their offices have all-glass fronts with no film, so it’s just as wide-open as the rest of the floor,” notes Hodges.
Further reflecting the company’s changing corporate culture, a large, airy break room open to the entire floor allows employees to see activity throughout the day and provides a casual environment for social interaction. Collaborative spaces featuring high-top tables and stools are mixed in with the open-office workstations to allow quick meetings, impromptu conversations, or alternative work places for staff.
Reflecting Mission, Values and Brand
To define the conceptual design and scope of the project, GS&P led an image survey with Eco-Energy executives to form a clear understanding of their vision for the new corporate headquarters. Interior designer Amy Klinefelter explains the process:
“At the beginning of the schematic design phase, we gathered a number of images featuring different types of spaces and grouped them by usage. We then had leadership review the images and discussed why certain ones appealed to them. Through this method, we determined they wanted a clean, modern and flexible workspace that reflected their industry.”
To introduce the Eco-Energy brand, the design team incorporated a wood feature wall in the elevator lobby to convey the client’s environmental stance in the biofuel industry.
Once inside, the waiting area at reception is accentuated by wood features that help set the tone for the rest of the space, and bring a touch of nature indoors. Along with the wood elements, the company’s blue and green logo colors were used as bright accents throughout the floor to reflect the company’s sustainability principles.
“We were working with a modest budget, so we used simple materials and focused on making the biggest impact in the lobby and break room,” says Hodges. “All the wood accents were made of engineered wood to save on costs.”
Adopting another key client goal, GS&P seamlessly integrated technology as a tool throughout the work environment. Large-screen monitors were incorporated into the design of the exterior columns and main circulation path, keeping traders up to date with the most recent news, trading data and goals. Conference rooms and teaming spaces were also equipped with the latest flat-screen monitors and digital displays for easy viewing.
GS&P took an imaginative approach to communicating Eco-Energy’s core values—including Innovation, Customer Focus and Integrity—in strategic places around the office. A dimensional label and stenciled description of each core value were integrated into columns throughout the space. Graphics of the company’s goals were also featured in a film pattern on a conference room adjacent to the break area, providing privacy for occupants without stifling the transmission of light.
“The original goal with Eco-Energy was to incorporate their core values and mission statement so they were visible to their employees and clients from any perspective within the space,” says environmental graphic designer Deanna Kamal. “The conversation grew from there into how we could represent the Eco-Energy brand through larger environmental graphics.”
The outcome is a striking feature graphic that highlights Eco-Energy's identity, placing particular emphasis on their process, including the distribution of biofuels both nationally and internationally.
“We pulled together artwork and relevant imagery—including fuel trucks, production plants, train tracks, corn fields and clean air—and placed the firm’s mission statement in dimensional letters in the center of the graphic,” says Kamal. “It was extremely beneficial to go through the core values and mission statement graphic exercises with the client and develop those into artwork. It helped us gain a firm understanding of their brand and who they are as a company, and culminated in a feature graphic that successfully conveys Eco-Energy's story and what they're trying to accomplish.”
Not Your Typical Interior Buildout
Utilizing open-workplace concepts and advanced technology, GS&P’s design solution successfully accommodates Eco-Energy’s growing global business while fostering teamwork and innovation among their employees. Hodges comments on what differentiates this project from other efforts of a similar scope:
“While this project could be viewed as a typical interior buildout, we worked closely with the client to design a space that would truly reinforce their brand and reflect their corporate mission and core values. The end result is a space that really makes an impact—even in the smallest details. The open layout feels active, and it immerses employees, customers and guests into the Eco-Energy culture. We’re all excited about the final product.”
“This effort represents interiors and environmental graphics working incredibly well together to showcase a branded environment,” adds Klinefelter. “It’s something we can proudly show to other clients who are trying to achieve the same thing.”
“Eco-Energy is a leader in alternative energy, and we desired a headquarters that reflected our position in this forward-thinking industry,” says Josh Bailey, CEO of Eco-Energy. “Our real estate professionals and GS&P worked with us to strategically define and build a space that not only accommodates our current business operations, but also provides flexibility for our evolving needs. The design team has created an efficient, open and energetic office that we needed to facilitate our continued growth and enhance our employees' satisfaction and productivity."