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!

Thinkspace’s Goal is Innovation in Design for Recycling

 Sorted debris

Tenant improvements can require a new company moving into an existing building to create a lot of demolition debris.  In order to build out our Thinkspace executive office suites, 5.79 tons or 11,580 pounds of demolition debris was removed.  The number of tons could have been much greater, but one of our goals was to reuse any and all existing materials for our new build out.

The demolition debris was sorted and put into sealed containers.  Each container was ticketed, tracked, and taken to a recycling center.  Once at the recycling center, the debris was resorted and weighed.  The report broke down the materials into the following groups:

Wood Derived Fuel, Alternate Daily Cover, Processed Planting Medium, Aggregate Feedstock, Bulk Steel to be processed, Prepared Steel, Scrap Aluminum, Scrap Copper Wire & Pipe, P.V.C. – Plastic Siding, L.D.P.E. – Plastic Film,  H.D.P.E. – Plastic, Carpeting, Carpet Pad, Cardboard, Gypsum Rock, Designer Mulch, Pulp Furnish, CHEP Pallets for Reuse, Electronics and Fluorescent Lights, Non-Recyclable Residuals.

Preliminary results show that we have exceeded our goal of 95%.  Our potential LEED recycling rate is 97.7%.  If we continue to maintain our recycling level throughout the entire build out, we will earn an extra LEED point for Innovation in Design.

I prefer to no longer use the term “demolition” as the process really should be called “deconstruction”.  In order to save existing door frames, trim, doors, etc, a lot of care is given to removing these items.  Also, the process of meticulously sorting and piling up debris is not easy.

Because there is so much additional labor to getting the debris recycled as well as additional attention air quality and dust control, I had to compare what the cost difference is versus going straight to the landfill.   It was definitely more expensive to recycle the debris rather than dump it in the landfill – it cost approximately 2% more.  Total demolition cost was about $2.06 per SF.

Being “green” is not easy or cheap, but the end result of having 97.7% of the material recycled is well worth the effort and money.  Up front, doing a LEED Certified for Commercial Interiors project is not cheaper than a normal tenant improvement project but the payback is huge in terms of air quality, healthy work environment, energy savings and knowing that tons of debris can be recycled instead of ending up in a landfill.

It Pays to be Green – Conservation Grant Awarded to Thinkspace

Save Energy

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has awarded a $13,000 conservation grant to Thinkspace for energy efficient lighting retrofits.  Thinkspace’s plan calls for a reduction in energy consumption by approximately 21,106 KWH.  Annual energy cost savings are estimated to be a little over two-thousand dollars per year.  Our discussions with PSE have been on-going for three months.  It is much more difficult to qualify for a grant that I would have thought.  In the end I’m glad that it was not handed out so easily as I got to have a much better understanding about what it really takes to save energy.  A lot of hard work and analysis by the architect and electrical contractor have made this possible.  Read about the first post regarding “Incentives for Going Green“.

How to Maintain Air Quality during the Demolition Stage (Part 2)

HVAC Return Duct

In addition to using HEPA air purifiers to maintain air quality during the demolition of the existing space, we also took a close look at the existing HVAC system.  Inside the space we have existing VAV (variable air volume) boxes.  VAV boxes are used to zone areas in large commercial buildings and also contribute significantly to the efficiency of the HVAC system.  On our existing VAV boxes we added additional filter media to ensure that we were not redistributing dust and other particulates in the air to other areas of the floor space.  We also used box filters and an extra layer of filter media on all return ducts.  This ensures that we were not bringing poluted air back into the HVAC system and redistrubuting the air to other areas of the building where other tenants would be impacted.

Filter Media

Energy Efficient Commercial Light Fixtures

Commercial Light FixtureElectricity is one of the largest expenses in a commercial office building.  Whether you’re the building owner or a tenant that is occupying a large space, it is good business to look for ways to reduce your energy consumption.  For a building owner it means lower utility costs, a more energy efficient, and desirable building.  For a tenant, if you have a triple net lease (NNN), that means lower operating costs.  For our project, we are looking to reduce our electricity consumption by at least 30%.  In addition to receiving the benefits listed above, we will also earn LEED points toward our certification.

One way we are reducing energy is by using energy efficient commercial light fixtures.  Initially, I thought that energy efficient light would be poor light quality with an ugly commercial looking lense cover.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this is not true.  The light fixture we selected is attractive with a contemporary appearance.  The smart design uses both a high performance ballast and lamp which provides a combination of direct and indirect light.  What I really like about the light fixture is that it looks great, the fluorescent lamps are not visible, and feels like more comfortable light with no glare.

Our LEED Recycling Goal

Demolition Chute

One of the LEED Certification goals is to divert construction, demolition, and packaging debris from landfill disposal.  Our personal demolition goal is to recycle 95% of all materials.  We started off our project with the Site Foreman telling all of our subcontractors that we don’t use the word “dump”.  All of the existing materials in the space that is removed will be recycled.  At the time of demolition we pile up similar types of materials into large piles.  All of the wood, cardboard, metal, plastics, low voltage wiring, sheetrock/gypsum, are stacked into individual piles.  Each of these items are then put into the debris chute which leads down to a container.  Each container is given a ticket number for tracking purposes.  We ensure that no garbage like McDonald’s trash is mixed up with our demolition debris.  The debris container is then taken to a recycling company which dumps out the contents of the container on a large warehouse floor.  The contents are then sorted out again and weighed.  A report will be issued with a detailed breakdown of how many tons of material were collected and a recycling rate will be determined.  Once I have received my first Recycling Rate Report, I will post the results.

How to Maintain Air Quality during the Demolition Stage

HEPA Filter

During the demolition stage it is paramount to maintain air quality.  With a goal of being LEED Certified, we are taking the following precautions into consideration.  As the demo is in progress we have two huge dishwasher sized HEPA air purifiers constantly running.  The HEPA air purifiers remove particulates, VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), and odors.  As carpets and drywall are removed, dust in the air passes through the giant HEPA filters.  Once the air is purified it is released out the back of the unit.  The filters are constantly being monitored and every few hours as the filters change color from blue to grey, they are changed and replaced with new filters.  This ensures that air quality is maintained for the people are that are working as well as the other tenants inside the building.

Thinkspace is the first LEED-CI Office Project in Redmond

Once I decided that the business was going to make an impact by going LEED Certified, I spoke with my friend Stuart Mckee, former State of Washington CIO, who told me that I should look into how government could assist me in my endeavor. This triggered a whole bunch of ideas which included looking into grants from the State and City.

I immediately saw that Mayor Nichols had a huge initiative for Sustainability in the City of Seattle. I contacted Peter Dobrovolny in Mayor Nichols’ Green Building Program organization but he told me “unfortunately, we only work with projects within the City of Seattle”. I decided perhaps I should check with the City of Redmond. I went out to the City of Redmond website but could not find anything that stated they had a Green Building Program. I immediately thought perhaps it is best to contact Mayor Ives directly and ask if such a program exists. I contacted Mayor Ives through email and she responded “Thank you so much for your inquiry. We want to be very supportive of all property owners interested in sustainable construction and redevelopment. I have suggested that we consider a speedier review process for ‘green buildings.’ Staff will follow up with you”. Not long afterwards, I was contacted by City Staff and had a meeting to describe to them the type of sustainable improvements that was planned for Thinkspace.

The City of Redmond told me that they have not yet received a building permit that was for a LEED Certified Commercial Interior office building project, so they formed a “Green Team” specifically for this project. It consisted of people from different departments:

Judd Black, Development Review Planning Manager; Jason Lynch, Building Official; Cathy Beam, Principal Planner, AICP; Nathalie Schmidt, Assistant Planner, AICP; Mark Selvin, Building Inspector; Carol Anderson, Building Plans Examiner; and Jozanne Moe, Building Plans Examiner

The turnaround time for the building permits was truly expedited. The tenant improvement project was submitted as three different applications. From application to approval it took seven (7) days one of the floors and 14 days for the other two. I appreciate the fact that the building permit process was so quick and that City of Redmond is committed to sustainable buildings.