Avon opens first LEED-certified cosmetics HQ in Manhattan

New Avon headquarters at 777 Third Avenue

Global beauty company Avon Products is today formally opening its new 246,500-square-foot headquarters on floors 2 through 11 at the William Kaufman Organization’s 777 Third Avenue, where it expects to become the first cosmetics company with Manhattan LEED-certified headquarters, according to a company statement.

The company is moving to the new space, between 48th and 49th streets, from its old location at 1251 Sixth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets, where it had been located for 15 years. The move to Third Avenue was announced in early 2010.

Details about the lease were not immediately available, but it was reported in 2010 that the lease started in the low $40s per square foot, rising to the low $50s over time, with one year of free rent.

Avon prioritized the “green” design at the new location because the company’s U.S. headquarters is one of its largest office spaces around the world, said Louise Matthews, Avon’s vice president of real estate.

Avon established its Green Building Promise in early 2011, a global commitment to achieve at least a “certified green” level in every major new construction or significant renovation project, and to seek a higher certification level, such as Gold or Platinum (or the local equivalent), wherever possible. The official certification of the new Avon headquarters is pending.

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“We incorporated the LEED features into the design as part of the process,” she said.

One key aspect was access to views and the outside.

“Ninety-six percent of all of our associates have access to daylight,” she pointed out, in open office areas with low partitions separating work spaces.

The company also made a commitment to obtain construction material from local and regional sources with regional wood flooring and kinon resin panels for the elevator lobbies manufactured in Newark, NJ. The ceilings, glass office fronts as well as countertops, among many other elements, are made out of recycled materials.

With Avon seeing itself as the “company for women,” the organization also made a concerted effort to hire women subcontractors, she said, exceeding its 15 percent goal on the project, with 17 percent of workers being women, including electricians and woodworkers.

Avon was the only tenant in the building that requested certification for a LEED-certified interior, Matthews added, and landlords the William Kaufman Organization and the Travelers Companies were very cooperative in establishing a green cleaning program and other “green aspects” of the office space. Sage Realty, the subsidiary of William Kaufman that manages the building, was not immediately available for comment.

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