As the primary employer in Benton Harbor, Mich., Whirlpool understands that sustainability is about more than just saving
energy; it’s about ensuring that your community remains a safe and healthy place for years to come. So when it came time for the company to replace its North American headquarters—a building which had not seen any significant change in 40 years—choosing to clean up and build a new LEED Platinum facility upon a vacant, contaminated site in the heart of downtown was an easy choice.
The facility’s design acts as a catalyst for Benton Harbor’s ongoing redevelopment and embodies Whirlpool’s commitment to residents of the town. Large glass openings face Main Street, while the opposite side of the building provides majestic views of the St. Joseph River. The surrounding landscape has been rebuilt with native plants and vegetated swales, and creates a large contiguous green space with help from the existing park next door. The company has also declined to build fences around the property, instead choosing to maintain an open and transparent feeling.
Inside, designers focused on creating happy and healthy spaces for employees. The building’s staggered core and exterior glazing provide 90 percent of its occupied spaces with a direct line of sight to the outdoors, and occupant control of workstation lighting increases employee satisfaction while also lowering energy usage. BIFMA-tested and GREENGUARD-certified products have also been emphasized in specifications, improving indoor air quality.
Guided facility tours and informational graphics throughout the building help share what Whirlpool learned during the design process, bringing the company’s sustainable ethos full circle.