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Organic Valley: A Workplace Flooring Case Study

Posted on Jun 29, 2016, by Mollie Williams

Health and well-being at Organic Valley go beyond the organic dairy, eggs and produce from the cooperative. They are vital components of its workplace and of all company initiatives. This case study highlights how Organic Valley partnered with Milliken for the first time to create two brand-centric offices in Wisconsin – the company’s headquarters in LaFarge and a new location in Cashton. The resulting spaces not only inspire, but also deliver sustainable workplaces where employee creativity, productivity and well-being thrive.

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Color Field in Barnwood with Sorrel accents

“It’s unique to find a flooring partner that checks every box on your list: sustainable products made with healthy materials and incredible design capabilities – and they’re fun to work with.” - Sarah Jaiteh, Workplace and Design Coordinator at Organic Valley

Intent

Organic Valley approaches every company decision with the goal to maximize its investment – to receive the greatest value through products that respect its budget and the environment, both outside and indoors.  

Flooring requirements for Organic Valley were a reflection of the brand’s core values:

  • Healthy, PVC-free materials to improve indoor air quality (IAQ)
  • Adhesive-free options to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions
  • LEED certification friendly with recycled content
  • Cushion-backed carpet tiles that allow employees to stand comfortably at sit-to-stand desks
  • Durable constructions that withstand heavy foot traffic
  • Energetic colors and creative avenues to illustrate the Organic Valley brand

Sarah Jaiteh, Organic Valley workplace and design coordinator, and her team first discovered the unparalleled comfort of Milliken's built-in cushion backing - a benefit that only Milliken offers - by simply walking on Milliken carpet at a Milwaukee-based office. She was pleased to learn from Milliken Sales Associate Roxanne Carlson that Milliken offers attractive, cushioned floor covering collections that are also environmentally responsible. “Milliken has an admirable sustainability story, and it beautifully fulfilled the type of human-focused flooring we were searching for,” Sarah noted. 

Improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

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Color Field in Birch Shadow with Vinoso accents

All materials throughout Organic Valley’s offices were selected with deep concern for VOC emissions to contribute to employee well-being. In addition to PVC-free carpet, one of the most impactful ways Organic Valley was able to improve its IAQ was through TractionBack®, an adhesive-free, environmentally superior method to install modular carpet. Because Milliken applies TractionBack during manufacturing, it offers several key environmental benefits:

  • Improves IAQ with a bio-based solution by eliminating off-gassing and VOCs emitted from adhesive chemicals
  • Contributes to LEED certification
  • Allows people to inhabit a space the same day modular carpet is installed

In addition to eliminating the need for wet adhesives or peel-and-stick techniques, TractionBack’s high-friction coating requires no additional materials for installation - such as glue or dots - to install the carpet.

Beautiful Flooring That Inspires Performance

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Color Field in Barnwood with Sorrel accents (left); Naturally Drawn Hand Sketched in Hand Sketched in Lime Peel and Hand Sketched Transition in Topiary (right)

Various Milliken collections were chosen for the spaces, including Consequence 2.0 and Fixate Loop at LaFarge, Art Media, Naturally Drawn and Way at Cashton, and Color Field in various colorways at both locations.

When designing the Cashton office, Sarah wanted a rustic yet modern space with elements of both reclaimed wood and galvanized metal. Milliken’s Color Field plank modular carpet collection was a natural fit. The distressed, grain-like pattern mirrors that of rustic barn boards, which, according to Sarah, “will always be in style for Organic Valley.”

Unlike its hard surface look-alike, Color Field features a cushion backing that is an integral component of its construction. The cushion backing not only prolongs the life span of the carpet, but also absorbs shock and knee impact - a health benefit for Organic Valley, where each associate has a sit-to-stand desk. Open-cell cushion backing has been shown to reduce muscle fatigue by as much as 24% and heel impact by up to 30%. Over the course of the working day, this translates into fewer aches, pains and distractions for Organic Valley’s employees.

Moreover, Milliken's built-in cushion backing improves the carpet's performance. Organic Valley is a cooperative of farmers, which means floor covering must withstand heavy boots that track in dirt. Milliken’s standard cushion backing fulfilled this requirement, as it extends the life of the floor covering up to 40%.

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Color Field in Barnwood with Sorrel accents

“We encourage people to stand at their desks while working. Knowing that Milliken’s built-in cushion backing provides ergonomic benefits when standing is a major reason why we selected their flooring.” - Sarah Jaiteh, Workplace and Design Coordinator at Organic Valley

Design Capabilities Beyond Expectation

“I love how Milliken’s unique printing process allows me to take a product and work in almost any color. It’s also comforting to know that Milliken’s color matching capability will allow us to replace patches of carpet, instead of the entire floor plane, even 10 years down the road. To us, that plays a big role in creating a truly sustainable space.”  - Sarah Jaiteh, Workplace and Design Coordinator at Organic Valley

Color and pattern capability inspired Sarah when designing both the LaFarge and Cashton spaces. It was important to create energetic environments that illustrate the Organic Valley brand. Teal and orange accents were incorporated for a fun pop of color, and greens and blues to coordinate with colors in Organic Valley dairy cartons.

Multiple collections were used to fit the specific tone and purpose of each space. Training rooms, for example, feature various colors of Op Art from the award-winning Art Media collection – a modern design for upbeat and energetic activities. 

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Art Media Op Art in Fluctuate(foreground) and Grisaille (background)

Functional and sustainable benefits aside, Sarah’s favorite part about working with Milliken is the creative freedom she’s allowed – like designing a patch of spilled milk on the creamery room carpet. “I had a crazy idea to have spilled milk on the floor,” Sarah shared. “Little did I know Milliken could make it a reality and inject one of our core messages, ‘milk worth crying over,’ in a whimsical, yet purposeful way.”

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Color Field in custom color

Milliken made the investment to understand Organic Valley’s story and vision, which was evident in the collections Roxanne curated. According to Sarah, her biggest challenge as a designer was having too many options that she loved.

“Milliken’s understanding of our company is invaluable to creating environments that inspire Organic Valley associates to create products and strategies that tell our story best.” - Sarah Jaiteh, Workplace and Design Coordinator at Organic Valley

Click here to download this case study. 

Topics: Design, Performance, Sustainability, Health & Wellness

Mollie Williams

Written by Mollie Williams