General Electric’s new corporate headquarters in Boston in the US has only 30 parking spaces for about 800 staff among a raft of sustainability achievements.

The precinct, designed by Gensler architects, comprises two refurbished heritage warehouses and one new 12-storey building that incorporates a “solar veil” of photovoltaic panels. All three buildings’ roofs will be vegetated to provide spaces for relaxation and collaboration, and also to mitigate the urban heat island effect, according to a detailed statement of environmental effects submitted to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

In addition, the company will apply the new, more stringent version of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Version 4 rating, and also the principles of the WELL Building Standard.

GE expects to the new building to be in the top 20 per cent of comparable new builds in terms of energy performance, and aims to substantially improve the energy performance of the brick buildings. Energy conservation measures proposed include high-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting systems, daylight harvesting strategies, energy-efficient glazing, increased insulation and smart building systems.

The buildings are also being designed for resilience to sea level rise due to climate change, with the plans raising the level of the ground floors and of all critical systems. The landscape design is also planned to mitigate impacts through increasing permeability and managing ground water flows.

The decision to reduce parking to such a minimal level was due to the location of the site, the company said. It is within walking distance of multiple stations on the T’s Red Line and Silver Line and has close proximity to housing, hotels and multiple mass transit options.

The company will encourage staff and visitors to use public transport, walk or cycle, and end of trip facilities for cyclists have been included in the plans.

All three buildings will provide floorspace to the public. The company and its partner in the development, MassDevelopment, a state agency, are also planning to rehabilitate the Harbourwalk area and create 1.5 acres of green, open space for public use.

The spaces between the buildings will also be public space, with all three parts of the campus connected by a glass atrium with a pedestrian-only throughway, an all-weather plaza and a pedestrian bridge.

Within the buildings, GE aims to provide space for innovation incubators, a laboratory that will employ life scientists to develop co-created products, space for tech start-ups, a Maker Space, STEM learning space, as well as a GE museum, cafes, a bistro, co-working lounge areas and an event space for the company and public.

“We want our campus to be a global epicentre of innovation, a place to foster relationships among our employees and the greater community,” GE head of Boston development and operations Ann Klee said.

“Our headquarters is designed to engage and leverage the talent, technology and work ethic of Fort Point and greater Boston, while also giving back to the community through investment, rehabilitation and an inviting public space.”

Project completion is planned to occur in two phases, with the first stage of preservation and rehabilitation of the brick buildings to commence in the fourth quarter of 2016, aiming for occupancy of the refurbished buildings by early 2018. The second phase – constructing the new building and linkages – is expected to commence in early 2017, with full completion achieved by late 2018.

“GE expects our new HQ will transform the existing, unused site into a hub of technology, innovation and intellectual stimulation as well as become a new meaningful destination on the City’s Harborwalk,” Ms Klee said.

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