Mike Burns cycles two miles every morning to his corporate job off the Papio Trail. The 51-year-old e-commerce director arrives by 8:15 a.m. (weather permitting). Then, he tucks his bike into an employee locker and heads upstairs.
Thirteen hundred employees at TD Ameritrade’s new headquarters are trickling into the building. Anyone driving a low-emission vehicle can park at preferential spots. Other employees with electric cars charge their batteries for free.
TD Ameritrade’s turquoise-green façade looms over the Dodge Street/I-680 interchange. The building’s design features random dark squares, resembling the old-fashioned stock ticker tapes once sent by telegraph, a tribute to the leading online brokerage’s forbearers.
Green splashes the company logo. Its website claims that green is “not just our company color.” A variety of eco-friendly amenities are helping the headquarters achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest level of certification, LEED Platinum. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”
The 12-story, 530,000-square-foot Omaha facility broke ground in July of 2010. Three years later, TD Ameritrade began relocating employees from five offices scattered across Omaha.
“We were looking for an opportunity to bring all of our Omaha employees into one location,” says spokeswoman Kim Hillyer, a healthy-looking communications executive dressed in green tones.
Concentrating workers allowed the company to offer perks—a basketball court, sand volleyball court, gym, and cafeteria—and to experiment with design. Architectural firm HOK designed the headquarters, TD Ameritrade’s first custom-build despite locations across the country.
Sunlight pours from enormous southward windows. The entire building was oriented to maximize natural sunlight and cut energy consumption by 45-46 percent.
Hillyer begins a campus tour from the cavernous lobby. A “smart” elevator without buttons takes guests down to the garage (generating electricity en route).
“When we first moved in, two staffers drove electric cars; now we have 10,” she says, standing beside one of five charging stations in the car park.
Up the tower, employees are typing from low cubicles facing a wall of windows. Fritted glass controls light and heat exchange. A shelf above the window helps reflect light to the back, where a slanted white ceiling and white walls reflects it across workers.
Meeting rooms occupy the back of each floor. Electronic sensors detect movement to activate/deactivate lights. Bamboo wood and linoleum from linseed oil were common construction materials, due to their rapidly renewable nature.
A rooftop garden pavilion hosts a team meeting in the sun, and nearby solar devices generate heat for the building. Meanwhile, rooftop drains gather rainwater for toilet flushing. Lawn drains also collect runoff to irrigate an expansive field of drought-resistant native vegetation, buffalo grass, and junipers.
“Part of the LEED requirement is education,” Hillyer says, pointing at the information labels posted throughout the facility. Public tours are available once every quarter.
Four wind turbines twirl on poles above the parking lot. They only generate a kilowatt per day. But there’s room for 20 more turbines. The management is thinking green, Hillyer insists, for the long-term.