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.

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.

Why we are seeking to be LEED Certified

USGBCOur story begins with our business needing to build out space to run our company.  Our 25,000SF build-out is large and I wanted to make sure we did something special with the space.  I wanted to make sure that our space was not just another run-of-mill tenant improvement project.  After I started to do more research, I came across the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) website and found statistics which stated “worldwide buildings account for 33% of all carbon emissions”.  That’s when I felt strongly that Thinkspace pursue to be LEED Certified.  I didn’t want to just superficially put some “green” materials in the lobby area and call our company “green”.  Rather, I wanted to make sure that we took this as far as we could and try and obtain the highest level of certification.  I felt this is a great opportunity to make a dent and reduce our carbon footprint.