Nissan Americas recently invited journalists to the dedication of its new U.S. headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, moving from its temporary location in Nashville. The new facility is designed to enhance employee productivity, and to be a “green” workspace.
The ten-story facility will house 1500 employees and is located on a 50-acre campus with a restored wetland that’s home to 50,000 native plants. The building features many energy saving design elements like adjustable sun screens on the exterior, and interior lights with sensors that dim lights when enough natural light is present to illuminate the wide open office areas. There’s also a roof mounted plant tray system that helps to naturally insulate the roof.
The building is constructed with open stairways and myriad “Town Hall” meeting spaces to enhance employee productivity. “This ‘Connectivity Concept’ encourages impromptu meetings,” said Rob Traynham, director of Corporate Services for Nissan, who oversaw the move into the new building. “Not only will we have increased productivity, we expect a 30-35% savings on utilities,” said Traynham.
The increase in employee productivity was apparent everywhere the assembled group of journalists toured. “I started being more productive the second I touched down,” said Katherine Zachary, manager, Nissan Corporate Communications. And these employees will need to be productive, as at an outdoor dedication ceremony for the new building, Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn outlined an aggressive plan for Nissan to be a world and U.S. leader in producing zero-emission electric vehicles.
Ghosn announced a new partnership with the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority electric utility to produce an electric vehicle in the State by 2010, and worldwide by 2012. At a later roundtable discussion with journalists, Ghosn was asked why Nissan chose to go the electric car route when other manufacturers are gravitating towards hybrids. “We are moving in this direction because I think the environment has changed dramatically in the last few years,” said Ghosn. In addition to rising fuel prices, Ghosn said the political environment has changed, and Nissan’s strategy must remain flexible. “Every time we meet with an official, the only question is about electric cars and when are we going to produce them,” said Ghosn. “And we are not doing zero-emission vehicles by duty, we are doing it because there is a market for it,” Ghosn added. When asked if there would be a singular strategy for Nissan’s worldwide electric car effort, Ghosn said that each market is different, and each platform would reflect the nuances of that market.
In addition to their aggressive electric car initiative, Nissan announced they will launch 60 new models worldwide by 2012.