Guest blog by Chris Yalonis, Co‐founder and President, VenturePad
Deep sustainable business practices are baked into the DNA of VenturePad, Marin’s new premier coworking space and incubator, which opened on March 1 in downtown San Rafael at 1020 B Street. VenturePad will cultivate, support and connect over 150 entrepreneurs, freelancers, creatives, and purpose-driven ventures. The design, buildout, and operations of the space use low impact, energy savings practices. VenturePad, a Benefit Corporation, will be applying to be in the certified green business program. Educational programs will include green business training and hosting of triple bottom line start-ups and impact enterprises.
VenturePad has 4,000 square feet of productive open space, full of natural light with 16 foot high ceilings, private suites, lounges, open desks, meeting rooms, kitchen, and a central café. Programs include lunch and learns, afterwork workshops, training and coaching programs, as well as a wrap-around team of professional service providers who will offer affordable, integrated, specialized skills such as IP protection, fundraising, software development, branding, website creation, and revenue generation.
Our sustainability performance metrics will primary be focused on being a carbon neutral and zero waste operation. The zero carbon goals are achieved primarily by being a MCE Deep Green customer, so that our entire energy use is generated with renewable sources. From the start, we designed and built VenturePad using low impact materials and practices, including:
- Locally assembled tables made of reclaimed wood, bamboo and sustainably harvested wood materials.
- Purchases of high quality, reused equipment and furniture from local businesses, instead of high footprint new furniture.
- Hardwood floors with sustainable cork layering for low noise and low petroleum use.
- Strict adherence to Title 24 energy codes, including occupancy and light sensors in each room, which dim or shut off lights when unoccupied, or when natural light from the floor-to-ceiling, 16 foot glass walls illuminates the space. Most days, no lights are even necessary, as inside rooms harvest natural light all day with glass walls and doors.
- All lighting is LED, which uses 15 percent of the energy of incandescent and 50 percent of fluorescents. Lifespan of LED is 20 times longer than incandescent and three times that of CFL’s. Rapidly declining LED costs have made the payback timing much shorter.
- All member computers, office equipment, and appliances are Energy Star rated.
- Members and staff are trained in zero waste practices, including supplier low-impact packaging, composting, recycling, and minimal shared printing on recycled paper.
Recognizing that transportation is 61 percent of Marin’s GHG emissions, VenturePad will work with its building owners and the City to install EV charging stations and bike racks nearby, and facilitate walking, mass transit, and ride sharing to its office for members and visitors.
VenturePad’s two co-founders are formally trained in sustainability best practices. Alejandro Moreno, born and raised in Marin, is a Green MBA from Dominican, and helped run Venture Greenhouse, Marin first’s business incubator, which launched over 60 mission-driven start-ups. I’m a graduate of the Presidio Graduate School, a top green business school, and I’ve taught social entrepreneurship and sustainability at Sonoma State, and chaired the San Rafael Chamber Green Business Committee for years. I’ve been on the ground floor of many firms, including Autodesk and Survey Monkey.
We’re proud to introduce an idea whose time has come: A full service, accessible, cowork community that acts as a hub and model for sustainable business practices and impact entrepreneurship in Marin. We invite readers to book a tour on our website or drop in on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays between 12-2pm.