Landlords and tenants are working around the lack of office space in San Francisco by sharing. In addition to bottom-line benefits, there are sustainability benefits to sharing as well. In this interview, Tom Poser of Jones Lang LaSalle shares his observations in the trend of shared office spaces. In the San Francisco financial district alone, there is over 400k sq ft. of intentionally shared space today and is expected to grow to 600 sq ft. within a year. Organizations such as the HUB and NextSpace are intentionally leasing large spaces and re-renting to smaller companies. While these shared spaces were not motivated by sustainability, their rise has sustainability implications. Sharing means less overhead space, this translates to smaller square footage per user. This in turn means less dependency on building resources such as heating and cooling per user. The aggregate real estate saved over many users means avoiding the need to build more office spaces. Meanwhile, companies save on the financial bottom line by spending less on office space.
Individual companies large enough to have their own space are also downsizing their square foot usage. Yelp employees work on rows of IKEA tables, requiring only 90sq ft. per employee, which is significantly lower than the average 200 sq ft. per employee. Law firms are hotelling their office space to transient workers. The weak economy has motivated many to look for efficient ways to re-purpose unused or underused spaces.
The office sharing method may be the sustainable choice for small companies, but what about companies on a growth path? Expanding into new spaces can also be a positive sustainability exercise. Start with the LEED checklist to evaluate a potential space for sustainability. Points are awarded for desirable locations situated near transport lines with less parking. Points are also awarded for features with Energy Star ratings and sites with recycling and composting. If the desired location has none of these benefits, there are ways to negotiate it into the lease. No matter the size of your business, there are many ways to bring sustainability into the office by simply choosing your office carefully.
Connie Kwan is a GreenTech Marketing professional based in Silicon Valley, CA. She is pursuing an MBA in Sustainability at Presidio Graduate School and blogs about sustainability and business at Sustainable Thinking: Applied. Follow her on Twitter @ConnieMKwan.