Over the past few weeks, the usual hush of paper rustling quietly amidst the gentle tapping of keyboards—the standard soundtrack to publishing houses everywhere—has given way to a clattering of boxes being filled and emptied, filing cabinets being rifled through, furniture and other miscellany being taken off to better homes. After many happy years in our Beacon Hill location, Beacon Press, along with the rest of the Unitarian Universalist Association, moved last week into shiny new headquarters right in the heart of Boston’s Innovation District.
The move is fortuitous in a number of ways. Not only does it position Beacon Press alongside a host of other creative organizations and individuals—including publishing colleagues Da Capo Press and Cengage Learning—but the move afforded the UUA a terrific opportunity to design a new space from the ground up, incorporating the seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism into the design of the space itself. “Our goal,” said Rob Molla, UUA Director of Human Resources and chair of the new headquarters’ design team, “was to design a space that was elegant, efficient, modern, technological, but that was environmentally responsible.”
The centrality of environmental responsibility to the building’s design is more than political. The commitment comes directly from the Seventh Principle of Unitarian Universalism, which stresses respect for the interconnectedness of all things, and is often interpreted as having a specifically environmental focus. In Molla’s words, “We see that having a green building is part of our religious responsibility.”
Partnering with architecture firm Goody Clancy, an early innovator in green design, the UUA has designed a headquarters that is airy and open, with a wonderful array of green-friendly features seamlessly integrated into the built space. For example, Molla estimates that lighting energy needs will be reduced by 35% through the use of low energy (and low mercury) LED lighting, open workstations positioned near windows, and white-painted walls that maximize supplemental natural light. Wherever possible, suppliers were chosen for their commitment to green manufacturing and recycled content in their products. “Even the countertops in the kitchen areas are recycled pressed paper,” Molla quips. Additionally, the structure of the original space was kept and some materials from the old building reused in order to reduce construction materials and resources. The building itself was chosen because of its close proximity to a variety of public transit options—commuter rail, subway, and bus lines, plus a Hubway bike stop just around the corner. To further encourage bicycle commuting, the UUA has installed bike racks and added an accessible shower room to the building.
Here are a few more highlights of the new headquarters’ green features:
- High-efficiency plumbing and fixtures were installed with the aim to reduce water consumption by 35%.
- All new equipment will be Energy Star certified, and new cleaning policies will require the use of green cleaning products.
- An independent review of all the mechanical and electrical systems in the building will be conducted to ensure they’re working correctly, eliminating common inefficiencies and wasted power.
- New systems of maintaining electronic records have been implemented to reduce paper waste in the office.
- Finally, the UUA is buying green energy credits, retiring some fossil and carbon based fuel from the market.
According to Rob Molla, the entire design process was informed by the desire to acquire LEED certification from the US Green Building Council, an independent review process that validates the environmental impact of a building or tenant space against international standards. Though the LEED certification process is ongoing, hopes are high.
We're thrilled by the new location, and we're certain that these new headquarters will make the perfect backdrop to continue our mission of igniting hearts and minds for many years to come.