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Clif Bar raises the roof on energy efficiency (photos)

Company's new headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., have been built on the concepts of energy-efficient architecture and creative reuse of materials.

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James Martin
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1 of 12 James Martin/CNET

Open work space

Clif Bar's new headquarters in Emeryville, Calif., have been built with the concepts of energy-efficient architecture and creative reuse of materials.

The 115,000 square-foot space, which is filled with natural light, opened in October.

To improve acoustics and insulate the building from echoes, 380 sound panels made of recycled blue jeans are attached to the ceilings.

With its climate control system, energy-efficient appliances, and "smart" solar array, the new headquarters will be one of the first in the state to meet the 2008 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards.
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Biophilic design

With a biophilic design, the concrete floors and minimalistic steel and glass design almost blur the boundary between the indoor and outdoor spaces, providing the interior with plenty of natural light.

Recycled materials have been incorporated throughout the building, and all wood used in the construction is reclaimed. Some of the wood came from inside shipping containers at the nearby Oakland port, from railroad ties at defunct area train tracks, and from barns.

Dogs are allowed at work--as are babies. The site includes a 6,700 square-foot child-care center.
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Atriums

Four atriums have been created to help bring more light to indoor areas.

Using outdoor light minimizes the amount of energy spent on artificial light. Solar panels on the roof aim to provide the building with 100 percent of its energy needs.

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Meeting rooms

This is one of the central meeting rooms, an indoor space that feels almost like a back porch.

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Climbing wall

The outdoor spirit that is part of the Clif Bar company's tradition is reflected in some employee perks such as a full gym, full-time personal trainers, a yoga room, and a climbing wall.
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Full gym at Clif Bar's new HQ

Yoga, spinning, and ski-conditioning classes are on the schedule.

In 1990, starved for energy during a 175-mile bike ride, Gary Erickson took a bite of a sticky, tasteless, gooey nutrition bar. He had an epiphany and decided he would try to build a better bar.

Working for months alongside his mother, Erickson tried recipe after recipe for a good-tasting snack that had the carbohydrates, protein, and fiber to sustain his marathon rides.

Eventually they got it, and Erickson's Clif Bars--named after his father, Clifford--soon became a hit with the bike community and then with all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. He sold more than $1 million worth of Clif Bars the year after the company was formally launched in 1992.

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Roof top solar system

In a step toward eventually receiving the highest available green building rating--LEED Platinum certification--from the U.S. Green Building Council, Clif Bar hired Sun Power & Light to install a 1,900-panel smart-solar array, which it says is North America's largest such installation.

Using the Tigo Energy Maximizer, the 530 kilowatt array will be monitored and optimized and is expected to create 6 to 8 percent more power than a standard array.

The array is expected to provide 100 percent of the energy needed for Clif Bar's offices, labs, and kitchen.

In addition to electricity needs, a solar thermal installation on the roof is providing 70 percent of the building's hot water.
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Community tree

Inside the building's 350-person theater, where company meetings are held weekly, an awards tree, with the names of employees of each leaf, recognizes outstanding work.
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Kali' s Kitchen

At a company filled with foodies, there's bound to be a kitchen on site.

Kali' s Kitchen, named after founder Gary Erickson's grandmother, serves breakfast and lunch made with organic ingredients from regional farms.
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Outdoor deck at Kali's Kitchen

The outdoor seating area at Kali's Kitchen is made from reclaimed wood.
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Outside HQ

Many of Clif Bar's vehicles run on biodiesel, and the company is offering was it believes to be the nation' s first biodiesel incentive program for employees.

The company offers employees a $6,500 cash incentive for the purchase of an alternative fuel or high-mileage hybrid vehicle.

It also offers a $500 reimbursement toward bicycle commuting costs and up to $960 in carpooling incentives.
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Looking out over the floor

Reclaimed bikes and sports equipment hang from the ceiling, recycling what might have been junk into environmental art.

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