Eco-schwag: Own a thinkspace Recycled Material Pen!

You can now purchase thinkspace recycled material pens. The barrel of the pen is made out of compressed recycled paper. Pens can be purchased at the front desk or you can purchase them online. Quantity discounts are available.

Mechanism: Retractable
Ink Color/Point Style: Black ink with medium point

Product Size: Approx. 5-1/2″

$1.50 each.

Best of Redmond: Victors Coffee House

Victor’s Coffee Co. is a local favorite coffee shop right around the corner from us.  Everyone in Redmond or passes through knows about Victors.  In addition to great tasting coffee, they also have panini sandwiches for lunch.

The atmosphere inside Victors is much more pleasant than Starbucks and Tulleys.  One experience that I don’t think I would ever have at Starbucks is the time when I ordered food and a coffee for two but forgot to bring enough money to pay for it.  I thought I was going to be doing the dishes in the back for while but the store employee told me to not worry about it and come back tomorrow and pay.  Now, that’s trust and a treatment that I don’t think you’d find at other coffee shops!

A big green button to remind you to turn off your computer

The Ecobutton is a ecogadget that plugs into a USB port in your computer.  Push the button and it sends your computer into a state of less energy using consciousness. It’s not sleep mode which I find completely annoying as sleep mode seems to take longer to wake up than just turning your computer on from a off state.

I was reading an article about Green Office Space at A Better Office and read that a UK company which provides serviced office space is thinking of implementing 4,400 of these ecobuttons for all of their offices.  I think the buttons look nice, makes a statement, and tries to encourage people to remember to reduce their CO2 emissions but that’s about where the love for this product ends.

I haven’t seen one of these buttons yet and when looking at the website photo it looks like they are made out of plastic.  I read through their FAQ but wasn’t able to find out what they are made out of.  I also find it a bit odd that they seem to glow.  It appears that they consume electricity and might even be a little electricity vampire itself.  It’s seems like conceptually the product has good intentions, but, I think there are better and cheaper ways to remind yourself to save electricity.

Quickbook 2008 and Windows Server 2003 Security Settings

I recently installed Quickbooks 2008 onto our Windows 2003 Server and it choked when I tried to send out invoices. This quickly became a major pain as Windows 2003 Server was locked down and I wasn’t able to change the Internet Security options to enable JavaScript to execute. I tried to manually change the Internet Security Options but it still kept throwing those errors. I ran a few utilities on various websites to test and see if JavaScript was enabled and it worked, but, each time I tried to do anything in Quickbooks it still kept giving me errors.

The Internet Security Settings were set to High and I couldn’t figure out how to change them. The normal Medium level security was not an option in the drop down box. I finally figured out how to solve this by:

Going into the Add/Remove a Component and un-checking “Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration”.

Once I did that I was able to change the Internet Security option from High to Medium. Yes, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal but when you’re trying to troubleshoot these kinds of things without technical support it can be a real pain.

Office Space Bellevue: How much office space does Microsoft occupy?

Everyone knows that Microsoft’s HQ is in Redmond, but, how much physical office space does Microsoft occupy in Bellevue?  I was reading a report that GVA Kidder Matthews released about how much office space they have.  Some of this information is from that report, some of the information I found on my own.  All of their office space in Bellevue is leased.  However, most of their office space in Redmond is owned.  The amount of office space in Bellevue is a tiny compared to the amount of space that Microsoft already has in Redmond.

Downtown Bellevue: Approximately 1,300,000 SF. (1,621,000 SF. corrected 1/30/09)

  • Lincoln Square – 320,000 SF.
  • Bravern – 740,000 SF.
  • City Center Plaza – 240,000 SF. (561,000 SF. – corrected 1/30/09)

Redmond: Approximatley 11,450,000 SF.

  • Currently under construction is the $1 billion, 14-building expansion project on its main Redmond campus.  Information provided by Schnitzer Northwest.
Microsoft’s Puget Sound Headcount:
  • 2004:  28,587
  • 2005:  30,858
  • 2006:  34,869
  • 2007:  36,405
  • 10/08:  41,276
Microsoft has never had a year where its headcount has declined.  It will be interesting to see if Microsoft will keep that up for 2009.  Even with a “headcount freeze” they still managed to hire 500 people in the month of November, per the Seattle PI.

Green Office Space: How to get a green grant by encouraging alternate methods of transportation

Throughout my quest to have a greener office, I have always looked for incentives and grants to do so. The best places to look are with your power utility company like Puget Sound Energy or Seattle City Light as well as through city, state, and federal government agencies.

My latest find is with the City of Redmond’s Trip Incentive Reduction Program.  I have been working with Erika Vandenbrande, the R-Trip Program Manager to figure out how I can take advantage of their incentive program.  I have been looking for ways to encourage people to take alternate methods of transportation into the office.  One of the ways is to encourage people to ride their bicycle.

I was talking wtih a few of thinkspace members and they said that they would ride into the office if they had secure bicycle storage.  They are looking for more than just a bike rack to chain the bicycle up to.  They would like to see secure bicycle storage.

When I was discussing this with Erika, she said that R-Trip has an incentive grant program which could be used to create secure bicycle storage.  Through this grant program, I am having a chain link fence built in one area of the parking garage for bicycle storage.  It will be accessed through a door with a combination lock that only the bicyclist will know.  There will also be a chair/bench inside that area for people to change their shoes.

This is pretty cool that the City of Redmond has this program!

R-Trip has a formula for small companies of less than 100 employees.  R-Trip will pay the first $1,200 of my bicycle storage expense and provide a 50% match above this amount.  For companies that have 100-500 employees R-Trip will pay the first $2,400 and provide a match of 33% above this amount.  For companies with more than 500 employees, R-Trip will pay the first $3,600 and provide a match of 25% above this amount.  To apply for the grant, you can go to the R-Trip Employers website and fill out an application.

Green Office Space: Use thermal imaging to identify heat loss

I’ve worked hard to green the office space at thinkspace. Most of my effort has been on the interior of the building. I’m now taking my first step to identify ways to make my green office footprint smaller by improving the energy efficiency of the exterior.

Post people take steps to make sure they have weather stripping in the their homes because they want to have lower heating bills. For a commercial office building it’s even more important to have a tight building envelope.  With a huge number of windows and doors there could be many leak points. I’ve decided that in order to do it right, I’m going to use thermal imaging photography to find all of the cracks and gaps.

I met a person, Michael Johnson, at our Redmond Chamber Sustainability Committee meeting. Michael took this photo of our office building the other day. The area that is whiter around the windows is the area that represents heat loss. So based on this photo, it looks like the window sills are leaking heat. There are few low cost suggestions that Michael is going to make about how we can mitigate these leaks. Michael quickly has learned that I’m a guy that likes to implement green, but, I’m not one that wants to pay a premium for green. So his low cost suggestions really resonate with me!

Our next steps are to implement some of these solutions and then take more photos of before and after to show what a difference these simple solutions can make. I’m looking forward to having more energy efficient office space! I suspect that we’ll have less drafts and it’ll be more comfortable for the people that work inside thinkspace.

I find it interesting that the tree in the background is still green even if you take a thermal imagine photo! I’ll be posting more results about our thermal energy audit as I get more photos!

House with a small footprint & exceptional design

Tonight, before dinner, I was walking out on the E Lake Sammamish Trail and walked by the best house on E Lake Sammamish.  The house is located right on the lake and has a spectacular view.  I happened to meet the owner of the house and she was so kind to give me a tour.  The lot is 3600 SF and the house is 1500 SF. The house is three stories and each floor is about 500 SF.  The house is 14 feet wide by 38 feet long.

I always wondered what kind of people lived in a house like this. My initial thought before meeting the owner was that it was a pair of empty nesters that were living in their dream house on the lake.  It turns out the owners have four children! I never would have thought it to be possible to put a large family into that house.

The owner shared with me some of the creative things that she did in order to build a house that could really maximize the square footage. It was inspiring to hear her talk about trying to find a way to squeeze out five more square feet. I think about how inefficient the typical floor plan of house is and it makes me appreciate this house even more.

The first and third floors are living space and the second floor is where the kitchen and family room are.  The house feels quite spacious partly because it has a ton of windows. In the family room they have a Nana Wall, an accordion style sliding glass door. If you haven’t ever seen one go look at the Nana Wall website. The Nana Wall makes the lake feel like an extension of the house. One of the other cool features of the house is a exterior fireplace on the side of the house — I can already envision sitting outside next to the lake staying warm by the fireplace! I would take this kind of living over a downtown condo any day. The house also has a lot of energy efficient features like on-demand gas hot water and radiant floor heating. I love the warm concrete floors.

I’m ready to downsize into this kind of house!

Sammamish Chamber of Commerce Luncheon: Blogging for your Business

Steve Broback and Jason Preston from the Parnassus Group are speaking at the Sammamish Chamber lunch on December 18, 2008 from 11:30am – 1:00pm.  Steve’s an expert at blogging and recently spoke here at thinkspace, where together we co-hosted the “Blog Bling Mixer“.  Jason is an expert at Social Media.  Jason has taught me a lot about Twitter.  Most people think blogs are for hobbies or special interests that you have.  Steve discusses the value of having a blog for your business.  I’m definitely going to attend this event and check out the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce.

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Green Festival Seattle 2009

I just received my Green Festival Seattle Exhibitor Invitation!  Last year, Seattle held its first annual Green Festival and it was a huge success.  I remember the weather was incredible that weekend as it was about 80 degrees and clear blue skies.  I also remember it being completely packed as more than 30,000 people attended the weekend event.  I think the 2009 event will be even more successful.

Highlighting what is inside my exhibitor invitation, the focus is on three things:

Your business: For the best in green, there is only one event against which all other green events are measured. By choosing to participate in Green Festival, your business has secured the best and most comprehensive exposure for your planet- and people-friendly products and services.

The community: By offering green alternatives to businesses and individuals across economic and political spectra, you provide them tools to enjoy a healthier way of life.  Awareness of your business expands rapidly as neighbors in these regions spread the word.

Our planet: When you exhibit your green products and services at Green Festival, you help create a more just and sustainable world.  Attendees feel more empowered when they see the daily actions effecting positive change. By employing the ideas, tools and products you provide these motivated citizens help make life better life better for everyone.

Who’s exhibiting?

• fair trade • eco-fashion • organic foods dining • organic home & garden • responsible investing • green pets • organic food • eco kids • community action • green careers & education • eco-travel • permaculture • green building • eco-art • bodywork • renewable energy • conservation & recycling • transportation • green office • organic health & body • green media • green technology • organic beer & wine

For more information on how to be an exhibitor you can go the the Green Festival Exhibitor website.  The are offering a nice incentive (30% off) to those that register and pay in full by December 15, 2008.  This is something that I definitely have to consider doing!  I’m really excited about event as last year was so enjoyable!

Green Festival Seattle 2009 will be on March 28th and 29th at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.  Hours are: Saturday 10AM – 8PM and Sunday 11AM – 6PM.  Click here for pricing.

Updated March 21, 2009:

Free Admission Tickets: My wife just told me that you can get a free admission ticket to the Green Festival Seattle if you purchase $5 worth of groceries at PCC.