Read ROI-NJ’s profile of Unilever:
- The new ‘U’: Unilever’s revamped U.S. HQ is thousands of square feet — all aimed at helping its employees thrive
The WELL certification
Jessica Rose Cooper, chief commercial officer with WELL, said the WELL building standard and certification, provided by the International Well Building Institute, is highly focused on optimizing human health and well-being.
“We address the design and construction of the space, how it is operated and maintained, and then we also look at workplace wellness programs and human resources policies,” she said.
That includes everything from air and water quality to the availability of healthy foods, and from having an environment which enables and promotes employees to be more physically active to how well nature is woven throughout the space.
“We also look at areas of comfort such as thermal, acoustical, olfactory and ergonomics, and we also look at lighting quality, both electrical and daylight, and how that could both promote visual acuity as well as affect your health and circadian rhythm,” Cooper said.
The Unilever U.S. headquarters will soon be scored using a range of one to 10, with Cooper anticipating that the building will achieve “gold” status between 7 and 8.
It will then be one of the first buildings in the U.S. to qualify.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction Rating System defines the leadership position for designing and constructing buildings in a way that produces quantifiable benefits for occupants, the environment and their owners.
Projects pursuing LEED-NC certification earn points across several categories, including energy use and air quality. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then earns one of four LEED-NC rating levels: certified, silver, gold or platinum.
Because nearly 430 employees already travel to Unilever from New York City and Hoboken via the low-cost Unilever Employee Shuttle, its new U.S. headquarters has a great shot at earning “platinum” LEED-NC status.
Business resource groups
Unilever is the kind of company that looks to its employees for answers, Veronica Velazquez, associate diversity and inclusion manager at Unilever, said.
“Our business resource groups all had a hand in putting together Project Unify and designing the new building,” she said. “Our Diversability resource group, for example, made sure that the building was accessible to disabled employees; our Pride group made sure that we would have some gender-neutral bathrooms in the office spaces and in our fitness center; and the working mothers’ pillar of our women’s group, Galvanize, helped decorate and stock all of the mother’s rooms around headquarters with the right equipment, including mini-fridges, mirrors, and hospital-grade pumps.”