Great River Energy in downtown Maple Grove provides an icon of the forward thinking that has gone into the development of our city. We have a tendency to drive by without noticing anymore, but to outsiders, the large wind turbine stands as sentinel, leaving no doubt that they have arrived in Maple Grove.
We were interested in the unique character of the inside of the Great River Energy building. After all, people work here all day long. We wondered what it’s like to work in such an innovative environment. Do the high tech surroundings translate into an innovative work process? Is work life actually better when everything around you is cool and cutting edge?
Chris Howe, Leader, Executive Services
Holly Linn, IT Portfolio Project Manager
What’s your favorite location in the building?
CH: The view I get as I pull into the parking lot each day. I get to see the whole building and all of the thought, planning and stewardship that went into it. I feel incredibly lucky to work in a beautiful building with what I believe are some of the smartest people that I’ve ever met.
HL: The lobby/atrium area is my favorite place at Great River Energy. The reflective nature of the roof keeps it bright and cheerful even on winter days. Water features create a calming effect that reduces stress.
In what way does the sustainable nature of your workplace impact your work at Great River Energy?
CH: When they designed this building, the architects and engineers touted the additional productivity of employees with more natural lighting and cleaner, fresh air. Admittedly, I initially was skeptical that it would make any difference in my life or health to simply have access to windows and natural light. I can attest that I feel healthier, happier and more productive when I am in this building.
HL: It creates increased awareness and a desire to put more thought into sustainability and making a difference. Great River Energy truly cares about the health and wellbeing of its employees and the communities surrounding its locations. I find that to be very refreshing!
What’s the biggest difference in the environment from your last job?
CH: Previously, I was in the Navy and it is not comparable, but even from our original headquarters in Elk River, it is amazing to see and experience the difference that 20 to 30 years of design and engineering make. The open floor plan of the building encourages collaboration with co-workers, and the windows and location provide a great view of the surrounding city and lakes, always reminding us to be good members of the community.
HL: At previous employers, my desk has been situated with limited or no view of the outside. This building really allows for bringing the outdoors in with incredible views of the prairie landscape, ponds and wildlife that can be seen from conference rooms and desk locations throughout the building. There are days when I can watch the hawks and an eagle soar past my location on the fourth floor.
By The Numbers The building is a big "saver."
- 20,000 gallon cistern that collects rain water from the roof for use in flushing toilets and irrigation.
- 81% reduction in wastewater. 66% reduction in overall water usage. 45% reduction in energy consumption. 14% of its own renewable energy is produced.
- ‘Green” elevators use 40% less energy and space than a traditional elevator.
- Produces enough renewable energy on site to supply up to 15% of the building’s own energy needs.
- 30: Number of houses that could be powered year-round by the small wind turbine in the parking lot.