We are now at http://thinkspace.com/blog!

We’ve decided to do a self-hosted blog instead of be out here on WordPress.com.

Peter

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Thinkspace a place of building connections and strengthening our community

On June 30, 2008, Thinkspace had it’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.  Thinkspace broke new ground by being the first building in the Puget Sound Region to market pre-certified, “green” LEED-compliant executive office suites with a carbon neutral option. The 25,000 square feet of executive office suites is located at 8201 164th Avenue in downtown Redmond. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Thinkspace is the 7th largest executive office suite in the Puget Sound Region and the largest in Redmond. Thinkspace provides private offices, coworking space, virtual offices, meeting rooms, and hosted software.

Peter Chee, CEO of Thinkspace, states “I’m looking forward to working closely with Chris Hoffman, President of the Chamber of Commerce and we are looking to build a strong community inside Thinkspace and the City of Redmond.  We’re planning on holding events for the business community and are also looking to coordinate brown bag lunches where businesses can learn more about how to operate their business in a sustainable manner”.

Mayor John Marchione was on hand for the ribbon cutting.  “Building businesses in Redmond is about building connections and Thinkspace is another place of building connections and strengthening our business community and strengthening our community as a whole,” Marchione said.

Click here to see the Flickr Photostream.

Party supplies made from potatoes

Last week we had our ribbon cutting ceremony for thinkspace. My wife and I were talking about what kinds of food to provide to our guests and how should we handle the waste at the end of the party. We wanted to make sure that since we’re having a party we should try to green it up as much as possible. She found these awesome forks — called Spudware. The forks are biodegradable and compostable. They are made from 80% potatoes and 20% soy. They are amazingly sturdy and are stronger than some of the plastic forks I’ve used in the past. One really cool fact about these forks is that they are not one time use! They actually are dishwasher safe as they can handle high heat. The manufacturer says that have a shelf life of 5 years. This is a nice alternative to plastic disposable forks and perfect for those office party events.

Sustainable Red

I’ve been busy with so many things lately and I’ve even decided to take a little time off.  I was at Whole Foods Market in Redmond today and was browsing the wine isle looking for a new wine to buy.  One that caught my eye was “Sustainable Red 2005” a Parducci Family Farmed Winery.  They are touting that their wine comes from the first carbon neutral winery in the United States.

Their story is that they run their winery on both solar and wind power.  They also have to purchase carbon credits and offsets to achieve carbon neutrality.  Approximately half of their 400 acre vineyard is organic with the remaining 50% being converted to organic.

The big deal is how does this wine taste?  I just opened up the bottle and am having a glass while I blog this article.  The bottle says to enjoy this wine with a pizza, so I’m doing just that.  To me, it has a berry smell and has a light fruity flavor.  Now — the shock is the price.  At $9.99 it’s a super value.  I’m happy to see that the cost of this wine is not over-priced just because it’s “green”.  I’d love to hear from the Parducci family on how much money they are saving on their operating expenses since they are using solar and wind power.  That has got to help keep their costs down and deliver a product at a great price.

Sammamish man creates ‘space’ for home business owners

Mary Decker, Reporter for The Redmond Reporter wrote an article in the June 14th newspaper about thinkspace.  “Like many of his Sammamish neighbors, entrepreneur Peter Chee thought it would be wonderful to work at home. Instead, he felt isolated. He missed the atmosphere…: Here’s a link to the article.

Walk Score helps calculate community connectivity for office neighborhoods and LEED Certification

A local Seattle company, Walk Score, has just launched a new service to calculate the walkability of your neighborhood.  I don’t think I can better state what their service is so here’s a quote from their website: “We help people find houses and apartments in walkable neighborhoods. Walk Score shows you a map of what’s nearby and calculates a Walk Score for any property. Living in a walkable neighborhood is good for the environment and good for your health.”

The reason I like this tool is because it visually shows where all the area ammenties are in relation to your address.  When deciding where to run your business you should look for a building that has a high Walk Score.  Having a higher Walk Score, can provide local businesses with foot traffic to help sustain their business.

As soon as I saw this website, I wanted to see what my Walk Score was for our office space in Redmond.  We managed to score a 95 out of 100 possible points.  It’s important for businesses to be operating in a building that has high community connectivity.  I’m always looking to do business locally with other businesses in Redmond, rather than sending my business off to other cities.

The other useful thing that I can see this service being used for is for LEED Certification.  The first thing that is on the USGBC LEED Certification checklist is Sustainable Sites and Community Connectivity.  In order to get points toward your LEED certification your building has pedestrian access to at least 10 of the basic services below within ½ mile:

  • 1) Bank; 2) Place of Worship; 3) Convenience Grocery; 4) Day Care; 5) Cleaners; 6) Fire Station; 7) Hair Care; 8) Hardware; 9) Laundry; 10) Library; 11) Medical/Dental; 12) Senior Care Facility; 13) Park; 14) Pharmacy; 15) Post Office; 16) Restaurant; 17) School; 18) Supermarket; 19) Commercial Office; 20) Community Center, and other recognized services evaluated on their merit.

The one thing that Walk Score does not factor in is alternative transportation.  They are aware of this and have an FAQ that addresses this on their website.  I think my Walk Score would be even higher if they included this as we are located right next to the Redmond Transit Center.  If they expanded their service to include this, it would help with another LEED Certification Category of “Alternate Transportation: Public Transportation”.  The requirement for that is: 

  • Tenant to select building within ½ mile of a commuter rail, light rail or subway station or ¼ mile of two or more public or campus bus lines usable by tenant occupants.

I’m very happy with Walk Score and have added their Walk Score Real Estate Tile onto the thinkspace website location page.  I think it helps show why our location is ideal for coworking space and where people are looking for high community connectivity.

Blogging for your Business

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Steve Broback, co-author of “Blogging for your Business“.  We had a very interesting conversation inside the thinkspace office.  He addressed me initially as the “the blogger”.  I was humored by that comment.  I was glad that he knew that thinkspace had a blog before he had even toured our space.  During our conversation I asked him what kind of work does his business do and he stated that he was an author and handed me his book.

I’m a bit of an information freak and quickly read the entire book.  In the past, I’ve googled the topic of business blogging a lot and read a lot of different blog posts.  I’ve always been a bit skeptical about what I was reading because I always felt like some SEO company is trying to sell me something.  I enjoyed reading this book because it didn’t feel like I had to buy something at the end.   Rather there were a lot of different practical ideas being introduced and discussed.  Chapter 7 “Launching Your Blog and Getting Noticed” was my favorite chapter in the book. I’ve tried a few techniques that were in “How to engage the Blogosphere” and got immediate results.  Understanding the rules of engagement is critical.  Getting other bloggers attention requires a bit more savvy than having a press release blasted out through the newswire.

I believe that blogging for your business is critical if you want to engage your customers in what you’re doing.  Your customers become much more educated in what you are doing, it can show them what makes your product or services unique, and allows you to stands out from the crowd.  One of the keys to being successful at business blogging is bringing something new to the table.  Don’t be a part of the “echo chamber”.  “Use your unique personal experience and knowledge to create original content that others can regurgitate.”  I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to start a blog for their business.

Find a restaurant in your neighborhood and save gas by ordering online

A friend of mine, Julia May, founded a company called “Clickeats”. The company provides online ordering for restaurants. Julia and developer Jay Karlin provide the technology and engine to any restaurants that wishes to provide their customers online ordering. Since most restaurant owners don’t have the time to setup a website and building out an online ordering component is not feasible, this gives restaurants a very quick way to be online at a reasonable price.

Clickeats has a restaurant search tool that allows you to filter by many different things. For example, I tried to do a search by organic Japanese food, provides catering, and is in Redmond. The Clickeats engine then displays a list of restaurants that meet that criteria. You can even sort by things like does the restaurant provide delivery. With gas prices so high, I don’t want to be driving anywhere if I don’t have to. So, naturally, I’m looking for restaurants that are in my neighborhood, where I can walk over to them, or they can deliver the food to me.

How to conserve water and pick a toilet for your LEED project

I’ve focused a lot on energy conservation in the thinkspace blog, now it’s time to address water conservation. When setting goals for our project, I originally was thinking about how can I conserve the maximum amount of water in my project. According to various articles that I have read, toilets consume the most water in a building — usually between 25 percent and 33 percent. I started to compare standard toilets to waterfree urinals. The metric that stood out the most was each urinal flushes down 40,000 gallons of water each year. My plan was to save 40,000 gallons of water for each urinal. I started to research customer satisfaction of these waterfree units and talking with people that worked in buildings that used these. The response I got from them was “whatever you do, don’t install those waterfree urinals, they smell bad, they are hard to maintain, it’s just not worth it”. The maintenance issue is also a tough one to deal with as I hear it’s not cheap to keep those filters serviced and if you don’t do a good job servicing them, that’s when the smell gets pretty bad. That’s too bad that I kept hearing these kinds of comments from various people, as I was pretty excited to be possibly saving so much water.

The next thing that I started to look at was the Toto Aquia dual-flush toilet. These types of toilet use less water than a traditional toilet. It’s not a toilet that flushes either once or twice, but rather it has two buttons on top of the tank that release either 0.9 gallons or 1.6 gallons depending on whether it’s a #1 or a #2 (I guess since this is blog, it’s safe to talk about this as this does not reflect the official view of the company, LOL). I spent a bunch of time talking with my rep at Keller Supply about water conserving toilets and she said these kinds of toilets are much better than the smaller tank toilets that were used in the past because those toilets seemed to get clogged all the time or people would have to physically flush the toilets twice, thus, not really saving any water at all. I didn’t want to have a sign in our bathrooms that say “flush toilet twice”.

The next toilet that I started to look at was the Sloan Ecos Dual-Flush Electronic Flushometer. Now this really was an interesting looking toilet. It is a hands-free, state-of-the-art, and dual-flush water saving toilet. Their marketing material states it’s “the ultimate in water savings and hygiene”. It sounded great to me as I don’t know who really likes touching the flush handle of a toilet. The Sloan Ecos releases 1.1 gallons for a #1 and 1.6 gallons for a #2. The water savings is not as good with this unit when compared to the dual-flush Toto Aquia. The question that everyone is always dying to ask is how does this know whether it’s a #1 or #2? Based on what I’ve read, the Sloan Ecos uses “Smart Sense Technology(tm)” that automatically selects how much water to release based on how long a user remains in the sensor range. Basically, the time interval is as follows: a person that stays in range for less than a minute is categorized as doing a #1, otherwise, the toilet is thinking it’s a #2.

We looked into what it would take to install a Sloan Ecos and it is a wall mount toilet. Meaning its water supply comes off the wall. Due to the location of where the toilet was being installed, I would have had to build out the thickness of the wall and run the plumbing inside the wall rather than having the plumbing under the floor. Since this is a commercial tenant improvement on an existing building and would have cost me a lot more I had to make a business decision and go with the Toto Aquia instead as that is more like standard toilet installation. While it doesn’t have the smart technology, it a less expensive and a more water conserving solution! Of course, this also earns us LEED points toward our LEED certification!  The price of the Toto Aquia is also priced reasonably (approximately $370) and I will definitely consider it using it again in my next project.

Plastic Bottled Water in the Workplace and at Home

I’ve decided to strongly discourage the use of bottled water in our workplace. We’ve recently completed the build out of our office space in Redmond and instead of using those huge 5 gallon containers of water from Sparkletts or Arrowhead we installed a filtered water system. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about bottled water and I’m convinced enough that drinking water from plastic bottles is not the most healthy thing to do. Firstly, regarding the large 5 gallon containers of water, those huge containers are made of polycarbonate. An article in Science Daily, discusses “Plastic Bottles Release Potentially Harmful Chemicals (Bisphenol A) after contact with hot liquids”. Companies that provide those huge 5 gallon containers reuse those bottles 40-50 times. I don’t know whether it is healthy or not to re-use those containers, but why take the chance?

The other thing that the article states is that “Previous studies have shown that if you repeatedly scrub, dish-wash and boil polycarbonate baby bottles, they release BPA (Bisphenol-A)”. This was a concern to us because we warm up our bottles with near boiling hot water, we microwave the bottles to clean them, and we scrub and wash the bottles. We recently got rid of all our Dr. Brown baby bottles and replaced them with Green To Grow baby bottles. These bottles are Bisphenol-A and Phthalate free plus they have a cute smiley face on them. There’s no way on earth I’m going consciously expose my babies to something that might be harmful to them. The Green To Grow bottles are about 2x more expensive, but it just isn’t worth the risk to save a few bucks.

The other area that my wife and I have completely stopped using is Kirkland bottled water. We used to buy cases of this stuff at Costco. Since we started to “green” our lives we’ve decided to do away with the disposable use-it-once lifestyle. There are so many articles out there that talk about the billions of bottled water containers that are going into the landfill. A noteable article to read is in E Magazine called “Bottled Water Backlash”.  The other really disturbing story that most people have heard about is the gigantic floating mass of trash (3 million tons and about twice the size of Texas) which is floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. If that doesn’t make one concerned or worried I don’t know what else could convince you to make a lifestyle change.

The other thing that we have rid our home of is plastic re-usable water bottles. I used to use those all the time too. Re-using plastic bottles can also leech out harmful Bisphenol A. You have to really start checking what kind of plastic your bottles are made of. Not all of them are safe. Some are ok to use once but they are not safe to re-use. Kind of confusing and takes a lot of research to figure out all those different plastic codes. My wife brought home a new container for me. It’s a SIGG, Swiss Water Bottle. It’s manufactured in an eco-friendly environment and is 100% recyclable. The company has a strong commitment to sustainability and makes an attractive product.

All this said, I’m focused on making sure that our company works in a more sustainable work environment that is healthier for my employees, tenants, and the environment.

Keilhauer Junior “Green” Office Chairs

I’ve finally got a little time to write about my office chair.  While out shopping for new office furniture, I had my sights set on a Herman Miller Aeron.  The same kind of chair that I used to sit on back when I was working for “the man”.  I had been looking around for a long time trying to find a good deal.  I looked on Craigslist, Murphy Auctions, eBay, DoveBid, I even asked my neighbor Rick who still works for Disney to sell me one of the old chairs that they were no longer using but he was not able to get me one.

When I was out looking, I saw a funky looking chair in the showroom and decided to give it a try.  The shape of the back is unlike a traditional chair.  It still provides all the support of a “normal” chair but it seems to be supporting my spine angle much better.  I also like the support that I’m getting right between the shoulder blades and lower back.  I sat in a Herman Miller Aeron for four years and I don’t remember ever having my chair feel as comfortable as the Keilhauer Junior.  I ended up purchasing the chair with a black leather seat and adjustable arms.  It has enough controls without being too complicated.  The Keilhauer Junior is designed by Tom Deacon.  The design has a very contemporary style to it and makes a bold statement.  The chair is also GREENGUARD Certified and contributes to our LEED certification.

I’ve been using the chair for one month and absolutely love it.  The cost of the Keilhauer Junior is maybe $200 cheaper than a Herman Miller Aeron.  While the cost of the chair is still not cheap, I rationalized with myself that I’m now at that age where I can’t afford to have back pain.  Going to a chiropractor would cost me a lot more in the long run not to mention the impact on my golf game.

Seattle-Bellevue area No. 6 on list of smallest carbon footprint

There is an article in the Seattle Times that reviews a study done in 2005 which states Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is ranked number six as lowest carbon emissions per capita. I’m not sure why the study is three years old and just being released now.

The article goes on to state that “Seattle draws its energy primarily from essentially carbon-free hydropower” and has a carbon footprint which is 10 times less than Washington DC’s carbon footprint.

“The authors [of the study] offer a partial portrait of overall emissions, concentrating on residential electricity and fuel use and the mileage traveled by cars and trucks, factors that contribute about half of overall carbon emissions. The calculations do not include industrial emissions, those from commercial or government structures and those from air, rail or sea transportation.”

It would be interesting to see how much these figures would change if the study actually included commercial structures. Cities like Los Angeles, which is ranked #2 on this list would probably not stay ranked at #2.

“The Honolulu area, with the smallest carbon footprint, ranked No. 1 in the study, from the Brookings Institution, followed by the area including Los Angeles and Orange counties in California, the Portland-Vancouver area, the New York metropolitan area and the Boise-Nampa, Idaho, area.”

The list of 10 smallest and largest metropolitan cities carbon footprints can be found on the Seattle-PI website.  Here the link to the Seattle Times article titled: “Study: Seattle area No. 6 on list of smallest carbon footprint“.

Eastside Business Journal discusses how Thinkspace offers tenants the chance to “Be Green”

The Eastside Business Journal published an article about thinkspace on May 22.  The full article can be found here.  Here are a few highligts from the article.

Thanks to thinkspace, almost any small start-up company can overcome daunting obstacles, costs and compliance issues to become a certified “green” business from day one. 

“Many small businesses find it advantageous to market themselves as ‘green’,” states Mary Benz, Vice President of Operations at thinkspace.  “thinkspace makes this green opportunity available to any size business.”

I’m am quoted as saying “Fortune 500 companies can build LEED certified office space if they choose but for the small guy, it is much more difficult. ”

A variety of office sizes and configurations are available, ranging from single offices to 1,000 sq. feet of space for a team of employees.  Additionally, “coworking space” is an option that makes shared-space available on a daily or monthly fee basis.

Puget Sound Business Journal discusses “Office Suites Providers adding Value by Going Green”

On page 7 of the May 23-29, 2008 edition of the Puget Sound Business Journal, Thinkspace is highlighted as a new Eastside executive office suite.

The PSBJ commercial real estate reporter Jeanne Lang Jones tells the story of Thinkspace how we are seeking LEED silver certification, how we used HEPA filters to control dust during demolition and how we recycled 97.7% of our demolition debris.  She also mentions that we have energy efficient lighting and our goal of reducing our energy costs by about 30%.  She also states “Besides using nontoxic (low or no VOC) paints, recycled carpet and energy efficient lighting, Chee is also providing tenants with bike racks, a shower and changing room and a charging station for electric cars.”

I’m being quoted saying “It’s better space at the same price our competition charges.”  In the article, a tenant of Thinkspace is quoted, “It’s the nicest Class A space in downtown Redmond…An office with sustainable features like this is just not available to small businesses…For entrepreneurs, it is an affordable way to limit their carbon footprint.”

If you have a online subscription to the Puget Sound Business Journal, you can read the whole article here.  If you don’t, contact me.

Big business, small footprint.

Thinkspace offers big business benefits to companies of all sizes and operate their business with a small footprint. To us, a small footprint means operating your business in office space that was designed with sustainability in mind.

Your company name does not have to be “Dell, General Electric, Google, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, Ford, Microsoft, or Intel” in order to be able to make a significant difference in reducing its carbon footprint. Thinkspace provides a path that allows SMB’s to have a LEED Certified Green Interior and operate an office in a responsible sustainable manner. Thinkspace goes one step further and also calculates the carbon footprint for each individual office and provides an easy way for each company to become carbon neutral.

Thinkspace’s design team has been charged to ensure that sustainable practices are woven into the buildings improvements from its inception. The Seattle area is leading the charge in green buildings and has an industry base to support and demonstrate this ability to the world. We aim to reduce our electrical consumption by at least 30%, use green building materials like recycled glass counter top in the lobby, have great indoor air quality by using low and no-VOC type paints and carpet adhesives, carpet made from 25% recycled materials, and operate our business with sustainable best business practices.

Our space has a lot of natural light — 80% of our offices have natural light, and our interior space has relites which allow light to pass through from other areas into the interior space. We have an energy efficient commercial lighting design which was awarded an Energy Conservation Grant.

During our build-out our demolition process focused on recycling all debris. We have recycled approximately 97.7% of the debris keeping it from going into a landfill. There is a lot of “greenwashing” going on out there and we wanted our clients to have confidence in knowing that we have gone to the highest level in seeking out our LEED certification.

Other big business benefits include our implementation of next-generation VOIP communication technology. Thinkspace has invested in the best communication foundation so that your business can have a competitive advantage and be more efficient.

Thinkspace is located in Redmond and has office space available from 113 SF up to 1043 SF. We also have shared coworking space, virtual offices, meeting rooms, and hosted software. Come check out website at www.thinkspace.com and schedule a tour of our space and join our community!

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