Green Line Series Interview | Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle and King County

Ngozi Oleru Headshot.jpgOur Green Line Series interview this week features Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of the Environmental Health Division for Public Health Seattle and King County. She is responsible for leading and managing the environmental health programs serving a population of over 2 million residents and has been instrumental in bringing a public health and equity focus to the impacts of the built environment both locally and nationally in policy and programmatic roles.

Ngozi will be a featured speaker at the GoGreen Conference session on March 16th entitled Building Healthcare and Business Climate Resilience.


You have been working on health equity for ten years now. Why is health equity important?

The question shouldn’t be why is health equity important, it should be why ISN’T health equity important. Equity should be the norm. Equity is where/how/when everyone gets to participate in life with full access to opportunities and consequences that are distributed not necessarily equally, but equitably. Does everybody need to be the president of a university? No. Does everyone need to be an engineer? No. But everyone should have access to the opportunities for health and well-being to do whatever it is they are called to do. That’s why it is important.

What are some public health policy changes that have been made in the last few years to advance health equity?

A fundamental change has been the adoption of a social determinants approach to health policy; the adoption an upstream, root-cause approach to public health. Are we there yet? No, but that shift has really brought into focus the idea that the definition of health is not just the absence of disease. Most people think of health from a disease/medical model. The shift of looking at health from the social determinants approach has been a real fundamental change which has brought us to the consideration of health equity in a more intentional and hopefully more sustainable way.

How are you creating and increasing health equity in King County? What are some initiatives the Environmental Health Division is working on now?

In 2006/2007, through a planning process, our department adopted the guiding principles: Based on Science and Evidence; Centered on Community; Driven by Social Justice; and Focused on Prevention to guide our practice. As a result, we are trying to be more intentional in the way we are engaging with the community in designing both the policies and programs.

For example, we just launched a new food safety rating system in King County. We made sure to engage limited-English and diverse food cultural groups so we could take into consideration how this new rating system would affect them and their businesses. As a result I think we got a better and more inclusive outcome.

We are also making very intentional efforts to hire for diversity so that the people in our community are reflected in our workforce. It is important that the perspectives that are brought to the table are as diverse as the people who are being served by our programs and impacted by our policies.

For me, the focus on diversifying the workforce, the focus on engaging the community in an intentional meaningful way are two very substantive efforts that are necessary as we work towards health equity.

What are a few things that government agencies and businesses can do to eliminate preventable and unjust differences for people of color and low-income populations?

There is a basic need for people in Government agencies and businesses to understand how structures and systems that prevent and deny access to certain groups of people have been built into our institutions. Understanding that historical context will go a long way to accelerate the dismantling of barriers to opportunity.

Policies about who we hire- how we define who qualifies and who doesn’t qualify for a job- don’t often allow everybody to participate. If a variety of perspectives are engaged when jobs are defined and described, we can take a step towards chipping away at a system that is not equitably accessible to all groups of people.

In King County we have an ordinance that directs our work through an equity and social justice lens. We provided training for our employees to understand what that means and what it looks like. It is imperative to understand the history of where inequity came from. It takes an examination of the way we’ve been doing business. It’s a mindset, a new mindset to depart from business as usual and a willingness to make meaningful change.


The Environmental Health Services department of Seattle and King County focuses on the prevention of disease through sanitation, safe food and water, proper disposal of wastes and toxins, and promoting safe and healthy environmental conditions throughout King County. You can find out more about the Environmental Health Services department on their website.

Event Details: The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

Interview with Richard Eidlin | Co-Founder, American Sustainable Business Council

Richard Eidlin Headshot.JPGThis past week we had the opportunity to sit down for a Green Line Series interview with Richard Eidlin, Co-Founder and Vice President, Policy and Campaigns for the American Sustainable Business Council.

Richard has worked for 30 years on sustainability, social entrepreneurship, policy, and CSR in the public and private sector. We are thrilled to learn more from Richard in person as a featured speaker and expert at the GoGreen Conference Closing Plenary on March 16th: The Role of Business in Climate and Clean Energy Policy.


You have been a business advocate for a sustainable economy under the Obama administration over the last several years. What are the biggest challenges you overcame in the past year?

One challenge was educating the media that there are a variety of opinions within the business community about what success looks like. We have mobilized thousands of companies who are triple bottom line, or what you might call responsible or sustainable firms, to weigh in on a variety of policy issues. We try to show the media that there are a lot of very successful companies who are making money and are also environmental stewards, paying people well and also paying their fair share of taxes. So challenge number one has been convincing the media by example that the traditional narrative that it’s either clean a environment or jobs is false and you can instead you can do both at the same time.

The second challenge has been working with legislators, both on the federal and state level, and educating them on that same dynamic.  We have been pointing out that certain policies don’t evenly affect all segments of society or businesses the same, and that often policies are enacted that inhibit progress in the part of responsibly sustainable companies. Those are two of the challenges we face.

What were some of the ASBC’s key accomplishments during that time?

I would cite the success we’ve had across the country on improving benefits for employees and workers through the passage of minimum wage increases in a number of states. That has been more successful on a state level than a federal level, but we did succeed in encouraging President Obama to raise the minimum wage rate for contract workers to $10.10. That was the second bit of success on that issue.

Another success has been working with BLab when they first started to get benefit corporation legislation passed in over two dozen states across the country. We were quite active in that campaign.

The third has been a lot of work we’ve done around climate change and the idea that a carbon tax has an important role to play negating the use of fossil fuels. We’ve been addressing the risk that business and society faces from climate change, so we’ve been working with a number of states and the federal government and were able to get both Republicans and Democrats to look at the merit of a carbon tax. We didn’t get any legislation passed, but we did succeed at least in broadening the conversation.

We also have been involved with a number of initiatives on safer chemicals and disclosure on what’s in chemicals that consumers use. I work with the EPA on a number of those issues.

Another example would be helping to promote net neutrality, wherein there is the same price for access to the internet. That was an important issue for a lot of small businesses.

Through the Jobs Act in 2010, we were able to help create some rules that led to the development of crowd funding platforms that were widespread in allowing individual small investors take a piece of companies as they grow.

The last issue looks at this whole suite of what your might call “high road workplace practices”, or “family friendly benefits”, family medical leave and paid sick leave etc, and made a lot of success at the state level. We really raised the bar and made it an important conversation, making the business case that those kind of practices create success in the workplace and are actually good for the economy.

The political landscape will undoubtedly look very different with the upcoming administration. How do you anticipate your role changing in the next four years?

We will look to collaborate with Congress and the Trump administration, and really find alignment. On issues where there isn’t compatibility, we will defend the progress that our constituency has made and argue for a different perspective. It will be somewhat on a case by case basis. Over the past several weeks we have weighed in on some of the nominations that the incoming administration has made and also have been meeting with members of Congress and will continue to do that.

There are a few issues where we think there may be opportunities for collaboration, like with the idea of having more workers own a piece of the company they work in through employee stock owned plans or co-ops. There may be some synergy around infrastructure, but we’ll have to see.

There are lots of issues, particularly around environmental and energy issues, where we are not optimistic. We are concerned that the rollback of regulations, the retreat from our international commitments, doing away with water quality, chemical safety and air quality regulations are all a really bad idea. We are going to be working on that. We will be really involved in what’s going on in D.C., while at the same time devoting some energy on what’s happening on the state level. We will target some states where we think more progress can be made than in Washington.

We are excited about learning your perspective on the role of business in climate and clean energy policy at GoGreen Conference in March. What are the key takeaways/action items that you want our private and public sector decision makers to walk away with?

The states are really important. In the Northwest there is a lot of opportunity for addressing climate change. A cap in trade or a carbon tax are really important initiatives for states that we want states to pursue, and the business community is a critical voice in that process. Sustainably-minded companies really need to step up and their views heard because if they don’t, the rules and policies that get written are not going to be aligned with their values.

At the same time, we think it is important for companies to take their own steps in becoming more energy-efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. We are looking for companies to advocate for the maintenance of certain good ideas on a policy level. We are also interested in electric vehicles and building out a smarter grid in this country. Energy efficiency is another concern. All of these issues are important to many small businesses and large companies, so we will potentially call on companies to get involved and to recognize that there are a lot of good jobs that have been created. We are undergoing a major transition in this economy, and to remain dependent on the fossil fuel industry without appropriate investment in clean energy is extremely short-sighted and puts the US at a competitive disadvantage.


The American Sustainable Business Council is a network of businesses and business associations that have committed themselves to the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit.  ASBC members believe that sustainable business is good business, and a sustainable economy is a prosperous and resilient one. Find out more about the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) on their website.

The GoGreen Conference, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

Interview with Sce Pike, CEO and Founder of IOTAS

Sce Pike_HEADSHOTBy making it easy to turn off electronic devices when not in use—IOTAS’ technology helps to save electricity. Was this technology created with sustainability in mind?

First and foremost we designed it for comfort and convenience for residents and messaged it that way because we were concerned that sustainability may imply something that could make the residents work harder. However, we knew that the technology could have huge implications on how individuals save energy (without having to go out of their way to do so) and how the building could be managed and optimized to save energy. If the residents leave for the day and everything automatically switches off behind them such as the lights, thermostats, and designated plug-loads without them having to think about it, there is an opportunity to save tremendously. Same with building controls, if the IOTAS system knows that the south east section of a building has very few residents in it right now, the system could automatically turn off common area thermostats and lights in that area.

As part of your pilot program, you’ve offered smart technology for free in at least one building in Portland. Moving forward, do you envision such technology being a standard feature?

We hope so. We’re facing strong demand so we believe that will be the case. We believe the demand is there because the apartment developers and owners also see a benefit to their net profits through cost savings and marketing differentiation for their buildings which increase the valuation of their buildings. We also see strong demand from residents who are moving in to experience the IOTAS Smart Apartment in the pilot building.

What is next in development for IOTAS? How does this help drive our sustainable future forward?

At the moment, we’re in the process of integrating with Amazon Echo, Nest, Apple HomeKit to allow for seamless integration of consumer devices that residents bring on their own. We’re also going to be integrating with building systems such as boilers, HVAC, etc. to make them more efficient by giving those systems more data such as presence/occupancy information.

There are 24M apartments in the US out of 124M total US households. IOTAS focuses on those 24M apartments. For residents, IOTAS automates energy savings without the resident having to actively do anything to save energy while providing smart home control plus insights about their usage patterns. For building owners. IOTAS automates energy savings, enables building-wide control, and provides insights in all vacant units and shared areas. We are engaging 24 million families and building owners in helping reduce energy usage even further by saving them money and providing them comfort and convenience.

Interview with Augusto Carneiro of Nossa Famillia

AugustoIn what ways did B Corporation certification benefit Nossa Familia? What challenges did you face when trying to get your B Corp certification?

‘Nossa Familia’ means ‘Our Family’ in Portuguese. My family has been growing coffee in Brazil since the 1890’s. I believe the generations of coffee farmers in my family approached sustainability as ‘sustain-ability,’ or ‘the ability to sustain,’ both environmentally and economically. So pursuing the B Corp certification was simply a continuation of the hard work done over our 5 generations of coffee.

Now more specifically, I’d say the challenges and benefits go hand in hand. Let’s start with some of the challenges:

  • The certification process is very involved and time-consuming. This is good because it makes the certification thorough and meaningful, giving every B Corp a high level of credibility.
  • As a fast growing company we more than tripled our staffing level from 2012 to 2015, going from 8 to more than 24 employees. This meant writing our first employee handbook, creating and perfecting systems and procedures. The B Corp process instigated more motivation and even provided guidance for what to focus on. It helped us codify and put into writing things that we were already doing, and also think hard about adopting best practices when it comes to taking care of our employees.
  • Coordinating with our coffee suppliers was not easy. There is a whole section of the B Corp assessment focused on our suppliers – who are coffee farmers around the world. They are not sitting at their computers waiting to answer our questions and documenting every single part of their operation, and they might not even speak English. They are usually out in the fields or in their coffee labs, working on preventing fungus from taking over their coffee trees, or working on harvesting and processing their coffee.

Different languages in different time-zones, all in developing nations. The very cool thing we found out is that some of the farmers already did a great job tracking many important sustainability factors. Other farmers and small coops are sustainable and ‘semi-organic’ simply because they can’t afford to purchase pesticides / herbicides, and these are harder to record and harder to get adequate data from.

As for benefits:

  • This process helped us codify much of the good we were already doing in a way that allows us to tell these important stories, both externally to customers and prospects, but also internally helping get our team fired up!
  • The certification gave us great ideas on what other areas we could focus on, as well as forcing us to look at the business from outside-in, giving us a new perspective in certain practices and area of operations, leading us to improvement.
  • The community has been very welcoming and supportive, and the events have been great networking. We are already working on some really fun collaborative partnerships with other local B Corp companies that we hope to announce soon!
  • We are newly certified (Jan/Feb 2016), so there are still many of the benefits to realize. Something big we are looking forward to is in the recruiting process, we believe it will helps us continue to attract a diverse workforce that share in our core values.

The farmers you work with share your B Corp values. How do you evaluate your partner farms practices?

My family in Brazil produces beautiful coffee and we were not in a hurry to add new origins, but we recognized that, much like wine, coffee from other parts of the globe offer distinct and exciting flavor profiles. Once we decided to open up our world to other coffees, the connections just started happening. This will sound a bit esoteric to some…but I believe the universe loves connecting like-minded people!

As we began to hone in our values, become focused on our purpose, and transparent on our way of doing business, the easier it became to find and be found by people who care about the things we are passionate about. Most new connections came in the way of an introduction, however some are mere chance, bumping into people in the corridors of a 10,000+ industry trade show, and knowing immediately that we have something in common.

Now for an evaluation…1. We start with trust, based on how the connection was made. 2. Then we travel. Nothing is as meaningful as visiting farms and seeing for ourselves how the operation is run, how people are treated on the ground and what, if any, emphasis is given to the environment. So we try to visit ALL our suppliers. It helps that I love traveling, and love to offer my staff a chance to travel. In the rare occasion that we cannot visit a coffee supplier, we always work with an extremely reputable importer that has direct relationships with the farmers, such as another local B Corp, Sustainable Harvest.
 
You’ve said that the City of Portland’s recycling program was taken into account when selecting sustainable packaging.  Can you tell us more about this? Did you consult with local agencies when selecting materials?

Unfortunately, the coffee industry is inherently riddled with waste and one-time use packaging. From to-go coffee cups to foil coffee bags, there is so much that gets thrown in the garbage when it comes to coffee! This applies to both the retail café environment as well as when we’re talking about coffee bags at the grocery store. Because of the need to preserve freshness in coffee, most coffee bags use materials that cannot be recycled or composted. We currently use a paper, PLA-lined coffee bag for our retail coffee, a choice that was made to lower the upstream environmental costs of our packaging. Unfortunately due to the lining in this bag, it still cannot be put in Portland’s recycling program. We are also now going through another packaging overhaul, in which we will be moving to a biodegradable/compostable material called Biotre, which is manufactured by Pacific Bag Inc. This bag is made from renewable wood pulp and Polyethylene, and has undergone significant research and testing. According to PBI, “It is best disposed by placing it in a privately managed compost pile where the 40% PE layer and one-way degassing valve can be removed manually and disposed in the regular trash. When a portion or all of Biotre is properly disposed with regular trash, its impact on the environment will be much less compared to a standard plastic/foil material which is made from 100% non-renewable resources and is not considered biodegradable in any way.” We feel that this is the best option out there in terms of sustainable packaging options, and want to invest in a company and material that shares our values of environmental responsibility and the cycle of continuous research and improvement. More info on Biotre: http://www.pacificbag.com/biotre/
 
Where do you see Nossa in five years? Are you hoping to begin new sustainability initiatives and/or expand those that are already in place?

We are super excited for the future! It’s been a lot of work building our base and now we’re ready to grow. We are actively working on expending our retail presence in Portland, opening 2-4 new locations in the next 5 years. We’re also expanding to a new market. We have rep in the L.A. area working on growing our presence there, where we hope to have a new hub. We will also have an international presence with retail and wholesale (still a secret at this point, as we’re still in negotiations for our first licensing agreement).

Nicole Freedman, Chief of Active Transportation City of Seattle

Nicole FreedmanThis past week we had the opportunity to sit down for a Green Line Series interview with Nicole Freedman, Chief of Active Transportation for the City of Seattle. Nicole is tasked with overseeing the expansion of the newly purchased Pronto bike share program, creation of Summer Parkways programs and a new TDM 2.0 program.

Prior to moving to Seattle, she worked as Director of Bicycle Programs for the City of Boston which was part of Mayor Menino’s vision for healthy, sustainable communities.  During her tenure, she helped transform Boston from the worst cycling city in the country to a recognized leader in cycling. Under her leadership, the city created 92 miles of bike lanes and implemented a successful bikeshare system.

Nicole Freedman will moderate the GoGreen Seattle panel session: Technology + Innovation Changing the Transportation Landscape in 2016.

GoGreen: How is your team moving forward with the daily operations of Pronto? Will services still remain the same in the transition of ownership?

Nicole Freedman: Daily operations and services will remain the same. To better serve riders we plan to move several stations to make the bikes more accessible. The first of these decisions was relocating the Frye Art Museum (Terry & Columbia) Station to the new Capitol Hill U-Link Station at Broadway & Denny. Longer term, we will be looking at expansion in order to better serve current riders and appeal to new riders across the city.

GoGreen: Can you address the plan that will be laid out over the next six months to better serve low-income populations and communities of color?

NF: A plan is currently in the works. We hope to test out a reduced cost membership program similar to the ones in Chicago and Boston. Whether or  not we can test this out before expansion is unknown, but we will certainly be making plans. The keys to success for such a program: great outreach and adding stations in low income neighborhoods.

GoGreen: From your experience, what does it take to transform a city into a bike friendly environment?

NF: There first must be a cultural shift within the city and with pedestrians. The department is working towards making Seattle a bike friendly city through the bike network of protected lanes and greenways with focus on the center city bike network. The further we are on pedestrian and bike issues the more that we need to work with drivers and expanding the public right of way. There will always be trade offs when developing more protected bike lanes either by removing parking or car travel lanes. We will need the public to be actively engaged and provide input.  Drivers and pedestrians are instrumental in the success of the city’s bike share program.

To find out more about projects and programs that the City of Seattle Transportation Department will focus on until 2019 read the  Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). The department’s vision is to make riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities. The actions and investments in the plan will advance this vision through new bicycle infrastructure, bicycle parking and other end-of-trip facilities, and programs to enhance safety, maintain facilities, and encourage more people to ride bicycles.

City of Seattle Department of Transportation will be exhibiting onsite during GoGreen Seattle on March 30. Check out TransitScreen and learn about new, innovative partnerships with Uber and Lyft to help people get home safely.

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle, brought to you by King County, will take place Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

 

Green Line Series | McKinstry’s Influence in Collaborative Energy

AshAwad01Ash Awad, P.E. is the Chief Market Officer at McKinstry. Ash is responsible for McKinstry’s market development strategy and has more than 20 years experience in the industry. His extensive knowledge covers systems engineering, evaluation of sustainable ideas and development of alternative-financing solutions. During this Green Line Series, we asked Ash a few questions around collaborative energy.  He will participate in the session District and Cooperative Energy | Hot Ideas + Cool Technology in the Seattle 2030 District as a part of the GoGreen Seattle program track on Sustainable Building and Design.

GoGreen Conference: We are excited to learn of McKinstry’s focus on “collaborative energy”, most recently featured in the new Amazon/Westin project in Seattle’s 2030 District. What does “collaborative energy” mean and how does this drive a more sustainable future?

Ash Awad: Collaborative energy is a derivative of the more well-known district energy concept, but instead of a central plant being the supplier of energy that is distributed to a “district” or collection of buildings, one of the buildings within that collection is the supplier of the energy. We like to refer to it as collaborative energy because a number of parties must collaborate to make it work. In the case of the Amazon/Westin project, a private building owner (Westin) had waste heat from its data centers that it was releasing into the atmosphere that the owner thought could have value as a heat source. Another private building owner (Amazon) was about to build its new corporate headquarters across the street and wanted to make that building as energy efficient as possible. Through its policies, the City of Seattle enabled these two private owners to innovate and design a system that captured the waste heat from the Westin, piped it under the street and delivered it to Amazon – thus the collaborative energy concept was born. Collaborative approaches like this are key to driving these cutting-edge outcomes.

The idea of re-using energy that’s been transformed into a different state isn’t new. McKinstry has engineered and implemented waste heat recovery systems many times before.  What is new is doing it on a large scale when energy suppliers and users are different entities and the energy crosses private property borders.

Dense, energy-intensive, mixed-use environments – such as cities – are not only smart ways of using and conserving land, they are also fertile ground for recycling energy.

This renewable model turns waste heat into an asset, rather than a liability, and promises to dramatically increase the energy efficiency of cities while reducing their carbon footprint. It’s a win for energy users because it saves them money and provides them energy price certainty for a long time; it’s a win for the community because we don’t need to bring on more energy generation resources.

We hope that this project catalyzes a paradigm shift in the way communities think about energy use and policy that shapes it.

GoGreen Conference: McKinstry designs the systems to take advantage of waste heat. Can you share new developments with these systems? Any new McKinstry projects launching that will utilize this?

Ash Awad: McKinstry is working on several other energy recycling opportunities. McKinstry thinks of buildings as energy resources – not just energy users. The Westin/Amazon project demonstrates that data centers in particular, are energy-rich environments that can benefit adjacent properties and communities.

The mechanical systems that are the backbone of these types of projects are readily available and are getting more and more efficient. What’s really interesting is the role data is playing in helping us better figure out how to use waste heat. Through the use of technology, buildings are getting smarter, which allows building designers and operators to be proactive in making decisions that affect the efficiency of our built environment.

GoGreen Conference: Our GoGreen business and public sector leaders will be very interested in learning about McKinstry’s work in this area. Can small and medium-sized businesses utilize these new systems? Why should business and public sector leaders care about this?

Ash Awad: This type of system may not be right or even possible for everyone. Retrofits to accommodate this solution can be expensive, and often downright impossible. Facilities with central boilers are good candidates, but if the boilers aren’t fully depreciated or have life left in them, it can be hard to justify replacing them. Utilities or other heat providers must obtain permits and navigate other bureaucratic obstacles in order to add water pipes and other needed infrastructure.

Businesses should care about this because how their facility operates directly affects the perception that people have about their business. Increasingly, building owners are looking for ways to make their buildings more energy efficient not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is also good for business. Research has shown that a company’s environmental record impacts people’s decision to do business with them. And building owners looking to attract tenants are finding that how “green” their building is can be a huge factor in determining lease rates.

Public sector leaders should care about this kind of innovation because as Oregon-based EcoDistricts describes the promise of this idea: “With the right mix of inspired design, smart planning and skillful execution, cities can be engines of innovation full of talented and creative people who accelerate economic growth, shared prosperity and ecological resiliency.”

This collaborative-energy approach spotlights the opportunity tied up in the massive untapped productivity of energy that resides under our streets and in our buildings in this country. Focused public policies that encourage urban density and public-private partnerships that build stronger neighborhoods are the key that can unlock this potential.

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle, brought to you by King County, will take place Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.

 

Green Line Series | Google [e]Team

Kati KallinsDuring this installment of the Green Line Series, we had the opportunity to interview Kati Kallins of Google’s [e]Team: Environmental Design and Construction Projects. She will be joining us on March 30 during the session, The Business Case for High Performance and Deep Green Buildings.

Kallins is on Google’s Real Estate and Workplace Services [e]Team, which is charged with delivering exceptional environments, experience and ecology on Google buildings. She has led sustainable design and construction projects with teams in North America, Europe, and Africa. Using her in-depth expertise on healthy building materials, indoor environmental quality metrics, and strategic communications, she works with project teams to deliver innovative office spaces that promote health and productivity.

GoGreen: There is a lot of buzz around high performance or “green” building right now. What high performance projects has Google completed recently in the Seattle area/WA state?

Kati Kallins: In 2016 Google open two new buildings and doubled the size of our Kirkland Campus, now totaling over 375,000 square feet. Google leases the space from SRMKII, LLC, who built the new space to Google’s sustainability specifications, including targeting LEED platinum certification.

The new building is on a site that formerly housed a chemical mixing and packaging plant. After completing an environmental cleanup in 2012, Google’s property developer, SRMKII, at Google’s request, conducted a second cleanup to voluntarily surpass state standards and remove all detectable remaining contamination at the property, even small pockets of chemicals, at concentrations safely below state cleanup levels. The Washington Department of Ecology has called the cleanup “cleaner than clean” and plans to remove the area from the state’s contaminated sites list.

The new high performance office buildings in Kirkland are designed with a focus on indoor environmental quality (IEQ), efficient resource use, and superior user experience. The new buildings were designed to “bring in the outdoors” because these design features have been proven to improve the health and productivity of occupants. Since people spend 90% of their time indoors this focus is paramount to creating Google’s exciting workplaces. With features like a sky bridge, public park, green roof, vegetative screens, and patios the building achieves Google’s goal to be a vibrant and restorative place to work. A portion of wood used in the office also was harvested from timber felled on-site during construction, so local natural materials can be found throughout.  All interior office furnishings also meet Google’s stringent IEQ Healthy Materials Program that vets building products for health and transparency criteria. The office uses resources efficiently onsite through a rainwater cistern that will reduce potable water use by 76% and a chilled beam HVAC system that will save 55% more energy than a traditional building HVAC system.

GoGreen: How do Google’s goals and values align with its green building strategy?

Kati Kallins: Google has always aspired to be a globally conscious company that is focused on improving the lives of our users and contributing positively to the world’s toughest issues. Doing the right thing and a standard of excellence are part of our fabric at Google – and our green building strategy is an extension of those values.

We work hard to create the healthiest, most productive work environment for our employees. To do that we approach buildings as living systems, designing for natural light and clear air, designing out harmful man-made chemicals, and using natural resources more intelligently. Our approach goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to designing buildings that are sustainable for local and global ecosystems.

We believe that a healthy work environment and a sustainable world begin with transparency and cooperation.  Our focus on creating healthy environments begins with vetting building materials through our Healthy Materials Program.   At Google’s offices worldwide, we put all building products through a rigorous screening process to determine which adhere to our healthy building standards—and we purchase the products that best meet our stringent criteria.

Yet our green building initiatives don’t stop with the building materials in our offices. We make every effort to address the factors that impact people’s experience of indoor environments, such as thermal comfort, daylight and access to views. We also provide aggressive performance benchmarks for energy and water consumption. We use sophisticated building control technologies to ensure systems are on only when we need them. We’ve installed solar electric and solar hot water panels on our roofs, treated water on-site for reuse, and used recycled municipal wastewater for other applications (e.g. toilet flushing and landscape watering). We have the aspirational goal of diverting 99% of construction waste from our projects. Google’s green building strategy is focused on cultivating extraordinary human experiences in the built environment through focusing on the experience of building occupants to optimize health and performance of employees.

GoGreen: Google places a lot of emphasis on helping employees perform at their best. How can small and medium size businesses apply a similar focus to their green building strategies and/or office environments?

Kati Kallins: The strength of Google’s green building program comes from its foundation in our company’s unique philosophy and values. Our initiatives and real estate philosophy are really an extension of our core values as a company. We value our employees as a key part of our success as a company.  So it makes sense that many of our green building initiatives are focused on helping our employees be their best. Our goal as a company is to have happy, healthy, high -performing employees.

For example, at Google our employees work hard to write software code and solve user problems with our products. To help reduce stress in their already chaotic lives we focus on building an office space that improves their health and productivity. For example, research has shown that access to views reduces cortisol levels in the brain (a stress hormone), so we strive to give employees access to daylight and views wherever possible. Our Healthy Materials program also focuses on optimizing indoor air quality by reducing off-gassing materials in the space –  a major health impact for employees. By using water efficient fixtures and purchasing renewable energy for our building operations Google signals our belief in conservation of resources. This is a company principal that many employees take pride in, so the benefits are wide-reaching. Our green building strategy is built around this goal of optimizing the workplace for employees and acting as stewards of the natural ecosystems we live in. This strategy is synonymous with our company culture and aspirations to make the world a better place.

To find out more about sustainability at Google’s Campus Operations, visit their website.

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle, brought to you by King County, will take place Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.