Bok – ULI Americas Awards for Excellence Special Mention
Learn more about 2023 ULI Americas Awards for Excellence Special Mention, Bok (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).
May 1, 2023
Sustainability shapes every decision we make at Microsoft. From the built environment to the technology we provide to our customers, our ambitious sustainability initiatives in carbon, water, ecosystems, and waste put our planet first. Opened in 2022, the Thermal Energy Center (TEC) showcases our commitment to engineering bold solutions for a better future while enabling us to meet our ambitious carbon and water savings goals. This vision drove every aspect of the design for the TEC. We broke ground on our first geothermal well in early 2020 and finished our 900 wells 2 years later in 2022. The TEC began supporting our campus on a limited basis in August 2022 and will be more fully utilized when our first buildings open in Fall 2023.
The TEC is part of Microsoft’s modernization project covering 72 acres of land that made up the original campus. The redevelopment of this section of campus presented an opportunity for the company to think creatively about its impact on the environment. We asked, “Can we build a zero-carbon campus, today?” From a carbon perspective, by removing the gas line from the project, centralizing the heating and cooling systems, and developing an all-electric 100%-carbon-free electricity supply for daily operations, the TEC is not only an integral part of our zero-carbon approach but also a centerpiece of our campus to inspire employees, customers and the public.
The design of the TEC turns sustainability inside out, literally showcasing the beauty of the machinery and mechanics that make energy and water savings possible. Microsoft’s commitment to educating the public is woven throughout the design of the entire project, from its location to the smallest of details. Rather than relegate the TEC to a remote area of the campus, the TEC is located at the heart of its workplace. Its dynamic presence features a dark metal screen with vertical bands while expansive glass windows reveal the glowing, green industrious machines within. The building welcomes both employees and the community to explore the unique technology that is powering the next generation of workers. A pedestrian bridge leads visitors to the transparent exterior, allowing them to peek inside at the hardworking prefabricated structural tubes and hot water tanks that are driving the company’s environmental goals toward carbon-negative status. In addition, interactive, welcoming signage invites visitors to learn about Microsoft’s sustainability initiatives and impact.
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