Environmentally responsible Redmond office chit-chat

It’s a lot easier to live and work green when someone else is doing all the work for you.

The Parnassus Group moved into thinkspace a little over a month ago, and it’s been great for us so far. I commute from Fremont, which is fun, but more importantly it gives you an idea of whether I’m complaining about the new plastic-bag tax (I’m not).

One of the projects that I’ve wanted to try at home but haven’t yet is compost.

You’d be surprised at the number of things you can put into a compost pile. There’s a PDF report, What Goes In A Compost Pile?, that lists things you put in, including:

  • hair
  • coffee grounds
  • eggshells
  • tea leaves

The compost bin as an addition that I’m glad we have at thinkspace. It’s one of the many ways the thinkspace offices make it easy for you to be green without having to worry about it.

Compost is, of course, a step above and beyond the recycling bin. But on average, people spend more time in the office than they do with their families (time awake, I think, is the caveat), so the habits formed at work can have powerful effects on their behavior elsewhere.

The easier it is for people to live green without having to think about it, the more popular it will become. And I think that’s a good thing.

About the author: Jason Preston is a guest blogger and thinkspace resident. To keep up with thinkspace news, subscribe to the RSS feed.

I’m now “LinkedIn” to one million connections now what?

I just logged into LinkedIn to find out that I’m now connected and somehow linked to one million people. What does that mean? Is there value in having “access” to these people? I certainly can’t call all of these people my friends. After hitting one million LinkedIn connections, it’s making me think about all the social network sites that I’m on and how all of them a common element, a quantitative measurement.

Facebook has total number of friends. Facebook has fan and group pages where people set up groups with goals of seeing how many people will join. Some groups openly state “I want to see how long it takes to get one million people to join”. There’s six degree of separation groups. There’s studies that show we’re all six degrees away from having a online conversation with Kevin Bacon.

Twitter keeps track of people that you’re following, how many people are following you, how many updates you have made. I look at some people’s numbers like the “Scobleizer” and he is following 21,000 people and being followed by over 32,000 people. 32,000 people, good grief, that’s equivalent to nearly 70% of the population of Redmond, WA following his tweets. You just got to wonder how that makes him feel knowing each time he posts a tweet he’s got all those people listening. He could almost start charging money to advertisers that want him to say something about their company.

Biznik, a business social networking site also has activity metrics. They have some algorithm that measure things like number of referrals, message posts, comments, events attended and hosted, all these things add up to how high you show up on the member page. You’ve got to be mad dog active to show up on the first page and people seem to be jocking for position to stay there. If Biznik showed each member how many points they had, it would be even more crazy as people would be trying to earn as many points as possible to pass others up and get on the first page which would give their company more exposure.

Plurk has Karma points. You are shown your Karma points and it goes up and down based on how active you are, how many people you invite to join, how many plurks you write and how many people respond to your plurks. I’ve been on Plurk for a month now and there have been periods where I’m so busy that I just don’t have to plurk. When I do find time to log in and plurk, I find that I’ve lost a ton of karma points. I end up working hard to get those points back up because it sucks to lose your karma.

Basically everyone of these social networking sites has something that keeps you coming back. I think these sites are striking a nerve with everyone. Am I the only one thinking that this like some kind of fantasy sports game only it’s about real people and everyone is trying to amass huge quantities of people points?

Incubator workstation redefines small footprint

I ran across this article on Treehugger which shows this photo of a new incubator workstation concept that stacks.  The designer is Honfay Lui.  I’m into office space solutions and love nice furniture design but this pretty much would kill any productivity inside of me if I had to work in this kind of environment.  Envision working side-by-side with your coworkers in pods of three or five.  While this setup would be fun for playing a multi-player video game, I don’t see how anyone could work for hours in this environment.

If you’re looking for a compact footprint for your office this might be a solution for you so long as you don’t require any ergonomic modifications.  I can’t even imagine what type of industry would benefit from such a office space design.  Would a journalist/writer who needs to hunker down for eight straight hours find this conducive?  I certainly can’t see how anyone with blue prints could work in this type of box.  Computer programmers, I don’t think so, since most techies have two or three monitors on their desk.  I’m pretty sure that after a day of sitting like this, I would have horrible back pain and be unable to feel my legs again.  I’m glad I’m not working for “the man” where this type of thing probably is actually being considered.

DIY: Sustainable Bamboo Whiteboards

We’ve completed our bamboo wrapped whiteboards for our office space at thinkspace.  One of my original ideas was to have the contractor who was building out our space do this, but, when I got the cost estimate I about choked.  It was another classic case of “it’s green let’s charge ’em more”!  I immediately looked into the idea of buying aluminum framed whiteboards from various companies like Staples and Office Depot, but, the lead time was five weeks and the cost was not cheap.

I was talking with Susan Evans co-founder of Office Nomads, a cool and creative coworking space in Seattle, and she told me that they bought whiteboard material at Home Depot and then constructed their own frames.  I thought that was an awesome idea and proceeded to do just that.  I bought sheets of Thrifty White Tileboard that was 3/25″ x 48″ x 96″.  The material is awesome and guess what, it’s FSC certified.  FSC certified means that the Forest Stewardship Council has stamped this product as being “from well-managed forests and other controlled sources”.  Each tileboard costs $12.95.

The next component for these whiteboards is the bamboo that is trimmed around the entire edge of the whiteboard.  The material used was a sheet of 3/4″ x 48″ x 96″ natural horizontal grain bamboo sheet.  This one sheet was ripped and cut down into perfect length sections.  We then took a router to the bottom horizontal piece of trim and built custom holders for our AusPen Eco Dry Erase Markers that we purchased.  That was a brilliant idea by my carpenter Sergei who did an absolutely beautiful job.  To finish off the look, we took 1/2″ x 48″ x 96″ natural horizontal grain bamboo sheets and ripped them vertically and created 40″ x 48″ panels that look like a wainscot treatment.

We created five (5) 48″ x 96″ bamboo trimmed whiteboards with bamboo panels with the following materials:

  • 5 – 3/25″ x 48″ x 96″ Thrifty Tileboards – $12.95/each
  • 1 – 3/4″ x 48″ x 96″ bamboo sheet – $200/each (trim & baseboard floor pieces)
  • 6 – 1/2″ x 48″ x 96″ bamboo sheets – $175/each (panels)

Tools:

  • Table saw
  • Router
  • Finish nail gun
  • Putty
  • Electric sander
  • Sawsal
  • Longer screws to put back on the electrical plate covers

The average materials cost for five whiteboards including panels below it was about $263 per whiteboard!  At Office Depot, they sell an aluminum framed whiteboard (same size) for $505.  That’s a lot better than the $1,250 per whiteboard price tag that I was quoted by the contractor.  I’m sure we could have done this even cheaper had we used something other than bambo, but, I really wanted this look.  In the end, we got a much nicer end product without spending more!  These might be one of the “greenest” whiteboards anywhere on planet — complete with eco-friendly dry erase markers!

For more photos check our Flickr photos.

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EcoCommuting and Sustainable Living Fair Event

Come out and join thinkspace at the EcoCommuting and Sustainable Living Fair at Redmond Town Center on Thursday, August 21st.  This event is about celebrating a cleaner, healthier environment.  There will be over 20 informational booths showcasing what local businesses and non-profits are doing to support sustainable living.  This event is by: Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association and co-sponsored by: Redmond Town Center, Genie Industries, Microsoft, Golder, and City of Redmond.

thinkspace will have a team there to show you ways to bring sustainability into your office space.

Redmond Town Center
Thursday, August 21, 2008
From 5pm – 9pm.

Email me if you want to come join us at our booth: peter [at] thinkspace [dot] com.  Volunteers will get an organic cotton team t-shirt.

Updated: 8/21/08.  A few photos from the event.
We are at the EcoCommuting and Sustainable Living Fair @ Redm... on TwitPic
Share photos on twitter with TwitpicMary & Melissa where providing tips to green your office.  We... on TwitPic

“Green” dry erase whiteboard markers for your office

I’ve done my analysis for which dry erase marker we’re purchasing for thinkspace and we’re going with the AusPen.  Before making a purchasing decision, I try and make sure that I read enough about products to be sure I’m not just buying into the “green” hype. I look at the company, their mission statement, and materials that are used to create their product.

I was reading the Whiteboard Markers blog and one post states that every year a billion whiteboard markers are thrown into landfills in North America alone.  School teachers use about 500 million whiteboard markers each year.  A few things make the AusPen unique compared to the Sanford Expo markers that we all grew up using.  Firstly, they are refillable.  Secondly, they are non-toxic.  Thirdly, they are xylene-free, which means you won’t pass out from inhaling the fumes — also good for maintaining indoor air quality.  Lastly, they are made of high quality aluminum.

I found one competing product, which is definitely an option that I considered.  Staedtler makes a product called Lumocolor.  It also is refillable, non-toxic, xylene-free.  The only difference is that it appears to be made of plastic.

The AusPen costs about 2.8x more expensive than the Staedtler Lumocolor.  However, the things that moved me in favor or the AusPen was the fact that the aluminum will probably last longer than the plastic and the fact that AusPen has a strong sustainability statement.

The AusPen also states that each AusPen is equivalent to 246 regular dry erase markers.  The cap of the AusPen can also be left off the pen for 24 hours before it dries out.  That’s a huge difference compared to regular dry erase markers.

If you’re looking to “green” your office you might want to consider these dry erase markers.  I’m looking forward to using these markers with our new whiteboards which are wrapped in natural vertical grain bamboo!

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How to find shared office space in Redmond

Every day I talk with people that are looking for office space in Redmond.  I thought I would do a quick summary of the available shared office space currently for lease.  A quick way to find office space is to Google “shared office space redmond” you get a list of companies that provide office space.  Google lists the following in the Local Business results:

  • thinkspace
  • Premier Business Centers: Redmond (no longer operating)
  • Business Service Center – Bellevue
  • Karman Executive Center
  • Regus / HQ Business Centers
  • Apple Tree Executive Suites
  • Bellevue East Office Suites
  • Juanita Bay Office Center
  • Eastside/Premier Business Center
  • North Creek Executive Office Suites

In the organic results, North Star Offices is also listed.  I wanted to bring this up as they are also a company that provides shared office space in Redmond.  Like thinkspace, North Star Offices is independently operated.  North Star Offices is run by Heidi and Molly.  I’d like to meet them but they were not around when I dropped by their space.  It appears that they have a mix of space — four open workstations, four private offices, as well as some group meeting space.  North Star’s space has a cozy and comfortable feel.

The second company listed on the Local Business Listings is Premier Business Centers: Redmond.  As of June 2008, they are no longer operating in Redmond.  Their Regional Vice President, Lisa Vojik, who managed the Redmond location has moved over to their Bellevue office which is located off I-90 in Eastgate.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and if you’re looking for space in Bellevue, she’s a sincere and true professional to work with.  Premier Business Centers is headquartered in California and also has a location in Bothell.

There other companies listed do not have a physical Redmond address as they are located in Bellevue and Kirkland.  Each of these shared office providers offer various pricing.  Some offer cheap office space, while others offer fully serviced space.  Fully serviced office space has many definitions but to be called fully serviced they should all offer things like phone, Internet access, onsite office manager, receptionist, copy machine, fax machine.

I’d like to point out that thinkspace offers much more than that.  We offer 1) Sustainable and creative office space that is built to LEED certification standards;  2) Reasonable pricing, just because it’s “green” doesn’t mean it costs more; 3) True VOIP (Voice over IP) communications; 4) Experienced staff committed to providing a healthy, friendly, professional environment; 5) Commitment to sustainable business practices; 6) and lastly, but just as important as the others is community.  We’re holding events monthly that allow you to mix it up with others as well as provide an opportunity for businesses to get exposure to all different topics that will foster and help your business grow.

We are in the business of leasing office space, but we’re also focused on building a strong community within thinkspace and the City of Redmond.  Our open areas are very conducive for collaborating with others.  We’ve got approximately 2,500 SF of shared space that is an extension of your private space.  We provide a large mix of space ranging from virtual offices, shared coworking space, private individual offices that can hold one person on up to 15 people.  Our goal is to provide the amount of space that will allow your company to grow and sustain.

There’s no long term 3 to 5 year commitment, large capital investment and financial risk, personal guarantee, triple net leases, long lease negotiations, and hiring and managing of office staff that you would need if you were to go with traditional office space.

If you’re looking for great space to call your “think space” and you are near Redmond, Woodinville, Bellevue, or Kirkland please consider checking us out.  When you tour, you can enjoy a cup of fair trade coffee and charge your electric car in our electric car charging station.