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Midvale • It’s a building, but it’s really about your people.
That is the message behind Zions Bancorporation’s state-of-the-art green workplace.
Utah’s largest bank formally cut the ribbon Friday on its 400,000-square-foot technology campus, arguably the largest sustainable architecture project in state history.
The LEED-certified Platinum campus reclaims the old Sharon Steel mill Superfund site, a brownfield that had sat vacant for decades, and it replaces 11 separate buildings Zions owned or leased in the Salt Lake Valley, cutting energy use by 15%.
There are 2,000 solar panels installed on campus, and that is as much as Midvale zoning would allow, said Jennifer Smith, Zions Chief Technology and Operations Officer. “We would have added more if we could.”
As it is, the panels will produce 75% of the electricity used on the campus, which will eliminate the release of 4.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually. The other 25% will come from renewable sources that Zions is purchasing credits for, Smith said.
And the 181 electric vehicle charging stations are the most at any single place of employment in Utah, all of them free to company employees.
In a tight labor market where workers — particularly tech workers — can always find another job, workplaces like the Zions campus become part of employers’ strategies for recruiting and retaining talent.
“It’s really centered around creating an environment that brings out the best performance in our employees and also recognizes how important they are to us,” Smith said. “It’s an environment where they can thrive.”
The project was completed during the pandemic, and Zions had to adapt to keep its employees feeling safe, she said.
“We replace the air in the entire building every 75 minutes. That is something our employees were concerned about from a COVID standpoint. We added it during construction.”
The campus abuts the Jordan River parkway, and employees can walk paths to the river. Other amenities include bike lockers, shareable e-bikes, pickleball and basketball courts and a community garden tended by employees.
“We are truly grateful for our wonderful people,” Harris Simmons, chairman and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, the bank’s parent company, told the audience at Friday’s ribbon cutting.
LEED platinum certified means it has the highest level of sustainability granted by the U.S. Green Building Council. “We have one of the lowest carbon use intensity ratings in the country for a new building,” Smith said.
The ratings are based not solely on the efficiency of the building but also the sustainability of the materials used. Even the furniture is manufactured with low emissions. The building is heated and cooled with electricity. The only natural gas pipe used on-site is for cooking in the cafe, meaning, the campus adds virtually zero pollutants to the valley’s air shed.
Zions was an early player in financial technology, Simmons noted — including launching the first digital signature platform more than 20 years ago. Since then, “fintech” has come to redefine banking and commerce, and Zions sees this campus as the birthplace of further advances.
“Zions is a technology company offering financial services,” said Zions Bank president and CEO Scott Anderson.
Construction was managed by Gardner Co., and Layton Construction and Okland Construction were the builders. Architects were WRNS Studios and Method Studios.
Tim Fitzpatrick is The Salt Lake Tribune’s renewable energy reporter, a position funded by a grant from Rocky Mountain Power. The Tribune retains all control over editorial decisions independent of Rocky Mountain Power.