Clif Bar H.Q. A Green Lover’s Mecca

Is there a 40-foot bouldering wall at your workplace? Yeah, didn’t think so.

It’s different at Clif Bar & Company headquarters. Located in Emeryville, California, it’s outfitted as though it were a Silicon Valley high-flyer, with the health club, the onsite childcare, the organic kitchen … and the bouldering wall. But more than that, the 115,000-square-foot building is a marvel of sustainability, claiming to be one of the first to meet the California’s 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and aiming for Platinum LEED status.

image via Clif Bar & Company

“If you would have told me this was possible 20 years ago when I had the epiphany to create Clif Bar during a 175 mile bike ride, I would have stopped in my tracks,” Gary Erickson, founder and co-CEO of the energy-bar giant, said in a press release. “This space is what Clif people have built – it’s more than a headquarters, it’s a home to their inspiration and passion to do business in a better way.”

Let us rattle off the features: There’s the “smart” solar array, which the company says optimizes output and reduces costs by integrating monitors onto individual solar panels, and should meet all of the building’s electrical needs, including in its R&D kitchen; there’s solar thermal on the roof, too, providing 70 percent of the heat needed for hot water; the building also has what’s called a “biophilic” interior design, with atrium gardens “integrated into the interior of the office space (to) bring sunlight and rain to the plants and greenery in the gardens.”

And did they reuse materials in the construction? Sure did. The building itself used to be a valve manufacturing plant. For new elements they got wood “from sources such as container crates, railroad ties and barns.” Recycled denim went into 380 sound-absorbing panels. Even the artwork is reused stuff: bikes, kayaks, snowboards and surfboards hang from the ceiling.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Ian

    This is a great article, and Clif Bar’s office definitely deserves a tip of the hat.

    Greener Ideal just published an article focussed more on the positive effects their investment in solar energy is having on their business. You can read about it here: http://bit.ly/eNKPLO