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Google HQ interior fit-out achieves LEED Gold

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PENSON’s fitout of Renzo Piano’s Central St Giles building, Covent Garden for Google features allotment gardens and recycled furniture


Architecture and interior design firm PENSON made sustainability a key priority in the fitout of Renzo Piano’s Central St Giles Building, Covent Garden, for clients Google. The interior fit-out complies with Google’s ‘red list’ (see below) - which avoids any toxic or harmful materials, resulting in an across the board application of water-based products. This included all lacquers, a move sometimes difficult to achieve in the commercial environment. Some water-based glitter coatings were invented by PENSON specifically for the project. All timber used was certified, including timber floorboards and eco-plywood perimeters. 

The spectrum of reclaimed materials ranges from a reclaimed timber floor to the use of second hand furniture and a re-appropriated jet fighter canopy. Many other FF&E items had high recycled content, for example use of Trash Me lamps constructed from empty egg cartons and Emeco Navy chairs, made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles.



‘Secret garden’ allotments bordered by hedgerows are designed into the balcony spaces give workers an unusual midday pastime: cultivating root vegetables and salads. Through gardening, the aim is to promote collaboration and within the workplace. 

While since its completion in July 2012 the project fell six points short of achieving LEED platinum, PENSON acknowledge that similar fit-out projects often have limited scope to achieve a good score.

Building a Healthier Google - The Red List
Our goal is to create a healthy workplace. This requires challenging the market to provide products that are free of known toxins and while making contents transparent to consumers.

Living Building Challenge Red List
Chlorinated Polyethylene
Nonylphenol and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs, including PFOA and Teflon)
Short-chain chlorinated paraffins
Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI)

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Formaldehyde (added)
Halogenated Flame
Retardants (PBDE, TBBPA, HBCD, Deca-BDE, TCPP, TCEP and other retardants with bromine or chlorine) Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
Petrochemical Fertilizers and
Polycholoroprene (Neoprene)
EPA Chemicals of Concern
Benzidine Dyes
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Methylene Diphenyl
Diisocyanate (MDD) 

Google’s Materials of Concern
Coal ash


Request product transparency from the market, so we can meet Google’s health- related goals.

Products under consideration for Google projects are required to respond to Google’s Building Materials Questionnaire. This survey will help us to better understand a product’s potential impact on human and natural environments.

Google also requests that manufacturers work with the Pharos Project. The Pharos Project provides critical health and environmental data about manufacture, use, and end life of specified building materials. The screen used by the Pharos Project is comprehensive enough to provide the information necessary to satisfy Google’s Guidelines for Healthy Materials Selection. Since MSDS and other product information sources do not disclose this level of information, Google project teams are required to use this database as a source of authoritative information about building materials.

Manufacturers who are willing to provide the transparency Google believes is necessary through the Pharos Project, will be given priority on Google projects moving forward.

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