When husband and wife team Peter Kjellerup and Mandy Cabot founded Dansko over 17 years ago, they were committed to creating an environmentally responsible practice with roots in the local community. So when it came time to design a new office building at the Dansko headquarters in West Grove, Pa., there was no doubt that the building had to be as sustainable as contemporary technology would allow. The company wanted to make efficient use of the world’s most abundant heating and lighting resource—sunlight. In addition to the drive for sustainability, the company saw an opportunity to create a workspace that fostered productivity, creativity, and comfort for employees. They felt that Dansko’s business offices, home to over 133 employees, could lower energy costs by making better use of natural light. Kjellerup and Cabot also believed their employees’ comfort, health, and overall happiness would benefit from higher doses of sunlight throughout the day.
Dansko’s architecture firm and building contractor both referred Dansko to Kay + Sons, a provider with expertise in Total Light Management—a company that knew how to best channel the power of sunlight. Kay + Sons provided an on-site assessment to review how the company could maximize their use of sunlight and reduce overall operating costs. After a thorough discussion of the techniques, technology, and potential outcomes, Dansko was convinced that an intelligent daylight management system was the way to go. Kay + Sons collaborated with Bernarden Haber Holloway Architects and W.S. Cumby Construction on the implementation of its daylight management technology. The team needed to engineer the solution, coordinate the materials, and align it with the building’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registered design and construction plan. Dansko’s system automatically controls electric light and natural light using daylight sensors, occupancy sensors, intelligent dimmable ballasts, and automated solar shades throughout the 82,000 square foot facility. The system harnesses the sun’s energy to provide warmth in the winter and reflects it away in the summer with solar shades. Sunlight is also directed to the center of the building to reduce the need for artificial lighting sources. Intelligent sensors in every space detect the amount of daylight in the room and automatically adjust shades and artificial light levels to minimize energy costs and maximum comfort, while also insuring that the lights are not on when they do not need to be.
Dansko’s daylight management system helps them better manage its facility and its use of light. Building occupants say the automated system is much more desirable than tasking one employee to control and monitor an entire area’s lighting usage. Dansko employees also report it has increased workplace comfort by providing proper light levels that incorporate the maximum amount of natural sunlight. The daylight management system also uses the power of the sun to control office temperature by reflecting heat in the summer and utilizing it in the winter. Occupancy sensors ensure that costly artificial lighting is never wasted on a vacant room. This contributes to their overall lower cost of occupancy. Thanks to the company’s sophisticated light management system, as well as other green construction practices such as the use of recycled and sustainable materials, the Dansko team is setting an example for the larger community in environmental sustainability. The facility achieved a Gold Level for LEED by the U.S. Green Building Council. Dansko employees are thrilled. “This is a wonderful building to work in … We’ve always had a corporate culture of upbeat productivity and responsibility, but this has given us a new charge.”