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Clif Bar Celebrates Its 20th Birthday With LEED Platinum Headquarters

Words by Leon Kaye


Clif Bar, the granddaddy of the modern day energy bar, has been sustainably celebrating its 20th birthday this year. The company’s latest accomplishment is this week’s announcement that its headquarters in Emeryville, CA, across the bay from San Francisco, was awarded with LEED Platinum certification.

The Platinum designation comes when Clif Bar can look back to its role in changing and boosting the organic food industry. A generation ago, “organic” was relegated to fledgling health food stores and the few farmers’ markets that could be found across the country. Now the organic food industry is booming.

And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Clif Bar may, or may not, want to view itself as the Starbucks of the energy and protein bar. Twenty years ago the energy bar was about as hard as a brick, tasted like one, and came two in a pack, which only prolonged the torture. But now the antiquated and rather sad Nature Valley Granola Bar has been left in the dust, and has even evolved, thanks to companies like Clif Bar that emerged on the scene. And Clif has long put its mouth where its money is with a record of community involvement and environmental activism.

The 115,000 sq ft headquarters opened in 2010 and boasts several eco-friendly features. The crowning showcase is the solar array on its roof, which provides the offices with most of its needed power. A solar thermal system generates 70 percent of the heat necessary for hot water. And speaking of water, low flow fixtures help with the company’s water footprint.

The interior of the building eschews the standard office furnishings with more responsibly sourced and manufactured materials. Over 12,000 feet of wood, salvaged from barns and container crates, line the interior. All the other wood within the building is from companies who only source from lands certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Recycled denim is the base of almost 400 sound-absorbing panels. Office furniture including tables and shelves were reused from the building’s prior tenant. Artwork is salvaged or recycled, too, with kayaks and surfboards among the decor.

Aesthetics have not been sacrificed for the building’s energy performance. Four atrium gardens provide sunlight while rain helps water the gardens’ plants. Natural light, in fact, help reduce Clif Bar’s energy bills as glass garden walls and large windows keep the interior illuminated during the day. And keeping to the company’s northern California roots, a massage room, yoga room, bicycle storage and a rock-climbing wall can be found in the building’s campus. Watch for Clif Bar employees to create even more compelling food and beverage products as they thrive in a most enviable office environment.

Leon Kaye, based in California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo courtesy SunTech and Inhabitat.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The GuardianSustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

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