Etsy-does it! Dot-com’s super green office a pleasure to visit — or work in

Dog days: Brittany Williams and Nicole Beres enjoy lunch with a furry friend at Etsy in Dumbo.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s a “kushy” place to work!

The dot-com office space in a building purchased by President Trump’s son-in-law and right-hand-man Jared Kushner is the largest “earth-and-employee-friendly” workspace in the world, an international tree-hugging group proclaimed this month.

The Etsy headquarters inside the nine-story Dumbo Heights complex office on Adams and Prospect streets met the criteria of the International Living Future Institute’s “Living Building Challenge,” and won its coveted “Petal Certified” status thanks to its green environment where employees work amongst lush greenery as dogs roam halls lined with colorful works of art.

Inside, tech-savvy workers take breaks by slipping into a meditation room or working on crafts in a dedicated maker space. A board on the wall in one of the cafeteria’s declares that 86.6 percent of office waste was composted, recycled, or reused last month next to a sign that says “the air in here is cleaner than out there.”

It’s all part of a plan to keep workers happy while making the world a better place — a win-win-win for the company, its workers, and the earth, according to a spokeswoman for the institute.

“If your employees are happy and inspired by the art and greenery around them they’re more likely be engaged in their work, more productive, more loyal the company,” said Ariana Anthony. “So what’s going for them is also good for our business.”

“Petal” certification demands the workspace be near public transportation; is built with eco-friindly materials; has an open floor plan with light shining through windows with excellent views; is furnished with handmade furniture built by locals; collects rainwater to reduce runoff; and includes native plants throughout.

Etsy outfitted the space, a former Jehovah’s Witnesses printing factory, to meet the challenge’s standards, a feat that just 56 buildings around the world have achieved.

Its 648 employees moved in last summer and enjoy perks including a catered meals by local businesses such as Vinegar Hill House twice a week, a recreation area complete with a ping-pong table and baby grand piano, and roof and terraces with views of lower Manhattan.

The office also boasts a bike room that can fit 100 rides 100-two wheelers with a button that cyclists hit to log how many employees have pushed the pedals each day.

And those with pets can bring their dogs to work after they complete an application and enter their pooch in a special pet directory. But the pups must stick to rules in the workplace — they aren’t allowed on furniture or in conference rooms — to accommodate employees that might not dig being around furry friends.

“We designed the policy and the use of the spaces so it’s possible for people to bring dogs in and not infringe on people,” said Josh Wise, who is the head of facilities.

All of these benefits helped Etsy win the health and happiness “Petal,” which is awarded to buildings that are deigned to increase worker’s productivity by keeping smiles on their faces.

One piece of criteria the challenge doesn’t assess is the building’s landlord. Kushner Companies owns the building — a factor that pushed the left-leaning newspaper the Guardian to abandon a move into the complex.

And given that he’s playing a pivotal role in an administration that has consistently denied climate change, his values clash with Etsy’s. But building ownership wasn’t a factor when the lease was signed in 2014, according to Wise.

“Etsy signed a 10-year lease to our new, global headquarters in 2014, which was well before the current president decided to pursue political office. At the time, we weren’t able to take our landlord’s current, overt political affiliations into consideration because they simply did not exist,” said Etsy’s Director of Workplace Ecology and Design, Josh Wise. “Nevertheless, we’ve established a long-term commitment to this space and to our community, and we will continue to be thoughtful in the way that we grow.”

The public will soon get a chance to peek inside workspace because Etsy is in the midst of putting together programming for its maker space during which anyone can make things there.

And Anthony said the office is such an oasis that she can’t stay away.

“I genuinely enjoy coming to work every day because I enjoy being here,” she said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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