Preserving the Environment

Forget Cubicles and Horrible Lighting. This Health Care Tech Company Goes All Natural

July 4, 2014
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Forget Cubicles and Horrible Lighting. This Health Care Tech Company Goes All Natural
The campus for Epic Systems Corporation isn't in the city. Screengrab via YouTube
Epic Systems Corporation operates out of a sustainable dairy farmhouse in Wisconsin.

Sprawling fields, rippling creeks and acres of farmland – this serene landscape seems like the perfect haven to escape the hectic corporate lifestyle. Yet, this quiet land is the headquarters of a successful health care software development company.

Headquartered in Verona, Wisconsin, just 10 minutes from Madison, Epic Systems Corporation has rejected life in San Francisco and Silicon Valley for this quiet oasis. Epic specializes in creating software that services mid-size and large medical groups, hospitals and integrated health organizations. Their software works to help doctors and patients control the movement of electronic health data.

Although the company’s campus features an apple orchard from 1873, corn and alfalfa fields and cows, don’t let these simplicities fool you. Epic is revolutionizing office space with some of the newest products in sustainable energy. Their dairy farmhouse boasts 5,500 solar collectors, and the farm’s 3,500 geothermal wells control heating and cooling. Epic also maximizes daylight to reduce their use of florescent lighting — which not only lowers their energy costs but also works better with their employees’ circadian rhythms. Overall, these actions saves Epic 15 percent on its energy bills, and their campus uses 40 percent less energy than normal office buildings.

The company’s sustainable actions also have an aesthetic benefit, too. Peaceful rolling acres are preserved as the parking garage is hidden underneath. And this view is something that Epic plans to maintain, despite growing in size. “There are parts of the campus they never plan to touch — they want to see animals as part of their view,” says John Cuningham, founder of Cuningham Group Architecture, the firm who designed the agrarian complex.

Employee comfort is also a high priority, and it is built into the company’s designing plans. The 319,000 square feet of interior space is all divided into individual offices because Epic’s employers work better having their own space.

Epic wants the surrounding community to be able to enjoy their land, too. The company rents 250 acres of corn and alfalfa farmland to local famers, as well as opens its acres to visitors. Free maps of the farm are provided and all visitors are encouraged to take a tour and view the sites — especially the 20 seat treehouse made from reclaimed wood that the company uses for staff meetings.

Unconventional and at odds with most of our conceptions of a software company, Epic Systems is turning the concept of the traditional office space on its head. If more companies follow their lead, “sustainable, natural and serene” could be the next big trend in corporate decor.

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