Tag Archives: LEED

Doris Gilch : The New Workplace

The work place, and particularly workspaces, are forever changed. No longer are offices just for punching in and punching out. The modern office has become a place to relax, renew and reconnect as well. The invention of the laptop and wireless everything provides freedom to break away from the traditional desk setting into a more freeform work environment. The modern workplace has collaborative meeting spaces, convergence of the indoor and outdoors, and is multifunctional and personal.

Collaborative Meeting Spaces

One of the big trends in office design has been the implementation of collaborative meeting spaces. We are seeing workplaces with less and less private offices and more shared spaces to not only maximize square footage but to also encourage employee interaction and idea sharing. This system creates more of a team environment and overall increased office energy.


I love the idea of creating meeting spaces throughout an offices like the one shown above that is located in the Paolo Alto, CA offices of AOL. This space is the perfect place for a quick conversation with a co-worker, but can also be closed off for a private meeting if needed.




The J Banks office also has special nooks and meeting spaces for us to quickly gather and talk through our current projects and design concepts. Having large surfaces to lay out and discuss plans, concept images and selections are very helpful. They allow for sharing with co-workers which ultimately assists in the evolution of our designs.

Personalizing Your Space

Today, our homes and offices are becoming more intertwined. This is apparent in our workspaces. We are encouraged to bring objects from home that make us feel happy and inspired. Personal items such as pictures of our family, friends and pets, special mementos and greenery make us feel more comfortable and at ease. A quick tour around the J Banks offices will show that each workspace exhibits individual personalities and items that stimulate their creativity.



J Banks Design Group 


J Banks Design Group 


Personalizing your office can even mean bringing a hobby into the workplace. This fun office space is at the Surfrider Foundation headquarters in San Clemente, CA. One of their employees even brought in their own drum set to the office for mental breaks and stress relief during the workday.

Convergence of the Indoors and Outdoors

The idea of bringing the outdoors in has always had an influence in most of our projects. The feeling of being outside and within nature creates a sense of peace and relaxing energy. Even though we would all like the opportunity to work outside on a perfect breezy, sunny day, we unfortunately cannot just pick up our desks and move outside. So let the outdoors come inside and create outdoor spaces that could serve as a work environment when the weather permits.

At J Banks we have incorporated many large windows to allow natural light to penetrate almost every area of our building. Not only does the office feel light and bright, but the health benefits of natural light help to keep employees healthier and more energized.

Natural Materials

Using natural and reclaimed materials is also something we’ve incorporated in our office design. Teak desks and reclaimed flooring throughout makes our spaces warm and inviting. 


Our outdoor courtyard not only lends itself to lunches on a sunny day, but also gives us the chance to meet outside with co-workers or clients and enjoy the beautiful Hilton Head sunshine.


A clever solution to bring the outdoors in for a small office space is to include vertical gardens like these featured in a LEED certified architecture firm in San Francisco. Clean and simple.

Multifunctional Spaces

Multifunctional spaces play a big role in current office design. These types of areas are space and time savers, and, like other modern updates, boost productivity. One of our larger multi-functional areas here at J Banks Design, the Sienna Room, lends itself to several uses such as vendor presentation space, client meeting space, video conferencing and a variety of other functions.


Retail Seminar Room


The room uses several small tables that can be combined or separated and arranged into a variety of set ups.  The room can also be completely cleared and used as event space.

Sienna Room Layout


A great solution for smaller offices can also be movable partitions. These partitions, at the Institute of Design at Stanford, CA,  do double duty as room separaters and movable presentation space. What a great space for client or staff meetings.

These are just a few trends that we continue to see incorporated into different types of office spaces.

As designers, we love to challenge ourselves to find new and innovative ways to transform a place of work into a place that fosters inspiration and creativity.

Doris Signature

Commercial Staff Designer

1 Comment

Filed under From the Designers

LEEDer’s of the Pack!

The J Banks Design building was the first LEED-certified building on Hilton Head Island, and only the twelfth in South Carolina. President Joni Vanderslice’s decision to build green resulted from wanting to gain first-hand knowledge of new design practices that could benefit her clients as well as provide a healthy environment for her employees.

So what does being LEED-certified mean?

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified buildings are designed to:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Reduce waste sent to landfills
  • Conserve energy and water
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions
  • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities

Below is an explanation of the many ways that the J Banks Design building applies the LEED building principles. Hopefully these concepts will inspire you to include some  of these options in your home or business.


The reclaimed flooring came from a barn in South Carolina and was sealed with a low VOC product. Low VOC products include any paint, stain, or varnish that uses water instead of petroleum as a carrier. Due to the low VOC paint being water based, not only is cleanup much easier, but also harmful emissions are much lower compared to their solvent-based counterparts.


All retail display cabinets were made locally which minimizes transportation costs thus reduces the need to use fossil fuels.

The showroom drapery dividers are made of linen, a natural material, and were fabricated locally.

The insulation used is Sprayed Polyurethane Foam (SPF). SPF fills and seals all exposed areas and cracks around the perimeter of your structure, giving you protection from air drafts and moisture.


The chandelier is made with a combination of recycled glass and steel.

The butt board walls are made from wood harvested from the trees that were cleared for building construction and were milled on site.

The entire room has low VOC paint, sealants and adhesives.  This room also includes locally made cabinetry.


A skylight was added to maximize daylight and minimize the need for artificial light.

Occupancy lighting sensors are used in this area and throughout the rest of the building. Lights automatically turn on or off due to detected motion in an area. Energy savings can result by turning off the lights when a space is unoccupied. Occupancy sensors can also enhance security and reduce light pollution.


There is low flow plumbing  in the bathrooms that use less water than conventional fixtures. The sinks feature motion sensors and turn off when not in use.

Dual flush toilets help to conserve water.

We have a repurposed piece of antique furniture as the vanity for the women’s restroom on the first floor.  Reusing existing furniture reduces the need for raw material extraction.


All furniture from previous offices was used and the teak desks were made from reclaimed wood.

The carpet is tiled and made of recycled content. Installation for this type of carpet produces far less waste than traditional broadloom carpet. Also, tiled carpet is easier to repair as you only need to replace a small area in the event of a spill or stain.

A skylight was added to this area as well to maximize natural light and reduce the need for artificial light. Natural light in the workplace contributes to better immune systems and healthier happier occupants!

Interior Light Shelf

Interior Light Shelves above the bookcases on the left.

Interior light shelves reflect direct sun to the white ceiling, which then bounces back down as ambient light, thus reducing the need for artificial light. (See diagram below)

Exterior Light Shelves

The perimeter of the upper level features both interior and exterior architectural light shelves. Light shelves are typically used in high-rise and low-rise office buildings, as well as institutional buildings. This design is generally used on the Southern side of the building, where maximum sunlight is found. Exterior light shelves are effective in reducing glare and providing shade, while still allowing indirect light to enter the building. A combination of exterior and interior shelves work best in providing an even illumination gradient.


The VCT (Vinyl Commercial Tile) that looks like cork is made from recycled products.

We use re-usable dishware instead of disposable plates in an effort to reduce waste.

All employees have glass water bottles that they can refill. The glass water bottles are locally made of recycled materials.


All paper, glass, plastics, metals and cardboard are recycled.

All paints, adhesives and coatings are low-VOC or VOC-free.  All non-wooden floors are made of recycled content and all wooden floors are made from recycled heart pine barn siding.

Landscaping consists entirely of local, native and drought tolerant plants. This reduces the need for lawn care and watering.

Parking spaces are made of permeable pavers that reduce storm water runoff.

There is a bike rack and shower to encourage employees to cycle or walk to work.

Natural light is available in almost every room in the building, including interior areas via transom windows at the top of walls.

Roofing contains high-albedo materials that reduce heat islands which helps keep the building cool, thus reducing energy consumption.

We are very proud of our LEED-certification and currently have 4 LEED Green Associates and 1 LEED Green AP on staff.  We embrace the concept of designing green as not only an investment in the environment, but also an investment in better health.

For more information on LEED building you may visit https://new.usgbc.org/leed or call J Banks Design to see how we can assist you in with your green building and design needs.


Leave a comment

Filed under J Banks Design Group