Sustainability in the work place

Your company name does not have to be “Google, Dell, General Electric, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, Ford, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Nike, or Dow Chemical” in order to be able to make a significant difference in reducing its carbon footprint. thinkspace provides a path that allows the 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 have reduced our buildings electrical consumption by over 40%, use green building materials, low or no-VOC type paints, and operate our business with sustainable best business practices.  We compost and recycle.  We even have a alkaline battery recycling program.

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.