Paige Butterfield – UFG Insurance
Paige Butterfield is many things: a small-town girl-turned-city woman, a volunteer for causes like Athletes with Disabilities and—since 2018—assistant vice president and director of workplace environment for Iowa-based insurance company UFG Insurance.
But perhaps her favorite role is that of mentor. A single mom who had to make her way in a male-dominated field, Butterfield wouldn’t be where she is today without advisors. It’s a gift she’s determined to pay forward.
“It’s not just because there aren’t as many women in facilities management; I would feel passionately about this regardless,” Butterfield says. “To be a role model for my own daughter, showing her that we can succeed in the business world, has always been extremely important to me. I love to show all women that we can not only survive, but thrive.”
For the future
After working in fitness and commercial interior design for the first two decades of her career, Butterfield found her calling in facilities management. Since joining UFG in 2018, she has made mentorship a cornerstone of her work.
When Butterfield became president of the Eastern Iowa chapter of the International Facility Management Association, she began taking students and young professionals under her wing, even arranging scholarships through IFMA for two young women interested in facilities management.
She also spoke to local college students about her industry and continues to Zoom with them, providing feedback on projects. To understand the people she mentors—both within UFG and as part of the Chicago IFMA chapter—she draws inspiration from her two kids.
“The mentoring definitely goes both ways,” Butterfield says. “Climate change, social issues, the pandemic—the list is never-ending in terms of the challenges facing the next generation.”
Indeed, while mentoring will always be a priority, Butterfield also has her eye on the future in other ways—like helping to make her organization more sustainable.
Butterfield believes few people understand the impact buildings have on climate change. That’s why she worked closely with her facilities manager to move UFG from a limited recycling initiative to a comprehensive composting, recycling and waste-to-energy program in July.
“We were taking over 20 tons of waste to the landfill every year,” Butterfield says. “And already, we’ve seen about a two-thirds reduction in what we’re taking there.”
Butterfield and her team have also coached UFG employees, encouraging them to compost paper towels, cafeteria plates and organic materials. She’s even made sure that the bags they use for the program are compostable.
“Watching what’s happening with the world has shaped my approach,” Butterfield says. “We seem to have more tornadoes, more hurricanes, more extreme weather events. We have offices all over the country, and those extreme weather events affect not only our business, but our employees and their families.”
In keeping with that commitment, Butterfield is also working to get UFG’s newest office building—the American Building in Cedar Rapids—WELL Building certified. Her entire workplace environment team is participating, monitoring thermal comfort, air quality, ergonomics and utility consumption.
Overseen by the International WELL Building Institute, a New York City-based ESG solutions provider, the certification measures the impact of built environments on human health and well-being across 10 categories.
There are preconditions that buildings need to meet to become certified. For example, they must promote mental health through awareness campaigns; design aesthetically pleasing staircases; and provide an acoustic design plan. Beyond those, a point system determines platinum, gold, silver or bronze status.
“Every member on my team is tasked with specific optimizations that they are researching and verifying so we can meet the requirements,” Butterfield says. “It takes every person on the team to be engaged and willing to dive in.”
Butterfield’s goal is to get the American Building platinum certified. She’s led efforts to improve the facility’s air quality and is working on getting healthier snacks for workers. And she takes part in the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion council, which allows her to advocate for more progress around DEI to potentially boost the company’s WELL score.
The campus also boasts an on-site fitness center and a dedicated staff member who oversees wellness and fitness initiatives.
Finding the right environment
The fitness thread runs through Butterfield’s career. A native of Vinton, Iowa, she earned her B.S. in Physical Education from the University of Iowa in 1988, followed by a Master’s in Health Promotion and Fitness three years later.
In 2003, eager to embrace a new challenge, she began taking online courses in interior architecture and design, completing a bachelor of fine arts in 2008. That led to a stint at a commercial design firm, followed by a job at ACT in Iowa City. It was there that Butterfield found facilities management.
“I just always loved it because every day is something different,” Butterfield says. “You’re not only talking about design and construction, but you’re talking about everything that goes along with running the buildings.”
Butterfield, who’d always wanted to live in a big city and loves her Chicago Loop neighborhood “just as much as I thought I would,” lived in Iowa until her kids graduated from high school. Now, in addition to serving as director of workplace environment, she serves as an advocate for her mentees and her direct reports.
“People never realize what it is we’re truly doing in facilities management,” she says. “Your IT and your facilities teams are always kind of running in the background. But if you didn’t have those people, your buildings wouldn’t run the way that they’re supposed to.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2023 Edition here.
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