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Preview of Google’s New Built-from-Scratch Googleplex | #cre #ccim #sior

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Exclusive Preview: Google’s New Built-from-Scratch Googleplex | Vanity Fair.

By         Paul Goldberger

 

Google occupies some of the most famous offices in the world—think cafés everywhere you look, treadmills with laptops attached to them, pool tables and bowling alleys, green buildings, and vegetable gardens—but not one of the places in which the company’s 35,000+ employees work has been built by the company. The core of the “Googleplex,” as the headquarters in Mountain View, California, is generally known, consists of a suburban office park once occupied by Silicon Graphics that Google remodeled to suit its needs; in New York, Google occupies (and owns) the enormous former Port Authority headquarters in Chelsea. The company has been similarly opportunistic around the world, taking over existing real estate and, well, Google-izing it. “We’ve been the world’s best hermit crabs: we’ve found other people’s shells, and we’ve improved them,” David Radcliffe, a civil engineer who oversees the company’s real estate, said to me. Under Radcliffe, the company’s home base in Mountain View has expanded to roughly 65 buildings.

For the last year or two, Google has been toying with taking the plunge and building something from scratch. In 2011 it went so far as to hire the German architect Christophe Ingenhoven to design a brand new, super-green structure on a site next to the Googleplex, but that was a false start: the company abandoned the project a year later, when it decided to build in another part of Mountain View, closer to San Francisco Bay, and went looking for another architect. Now Google has partnered with the Seattle-based firm NBBJ, a somewhat more conventional choice. And the renderings of the new project, which Google has made available to Vanity Fair, show something that looks, at first glance, like an updated version of one of the many suburban office parks that Google has made a practice of taking over and re-doing for its own needs.

The more you look at the complex, however, the more intriguing it is. The new campus, which the company is calling Bay View, consists of nine roughly similar structures, most of which will be four stories high, and all of which are shaped like rectangles that have been bent in the middle. The bent rectangles are arranged to form large and small courtyards, and several of the buildings have green roofs. All of the structures are connected by bridges, one of which will bring people directly to one of the green roofs that has been done up with an outdoor café and gathering space. And cars, the bane of almost every suburban office complex, including the Googleplex, are hidden away.

What is really striking about this project, however, isn’t what the architecture will look like, about which renderings can show only so much anyway. It’s the way in which Google decided what it wanted and how it conveyed this to its architects. Google is, as just about everyone in the world now knows, the most voracious accumulator of data on the planet. When it decided to build a building, it did what it did best, which was to gather data. Google studied, and tried to quantify, everything about how its employees work, about what kind of spaces they wanted, about how much it mattered for certain groups to be near certain other groups, and so forth.

The layout of bent rectangles, then, emerged out of the company’s insistence on a floor plan that would maximize what Radcliffe called “casual collisions of the work force.” No employee in the 1.1-million-square-foot complex will be more than a two-and-a-half-minute walk from any other, according to Radcliffe. “You can’t schedule innovation,” he said. “We want to create opportunities for people to have ideas and be able to turn to others right there and say, ‘What do you think of this?’”

What may be most significant is that the company’s research led to a design that isn’t substantially different from the existing Google buildings, just more so. The older buildings have a mix of private, quiet work spaces (though no private offices) and social and communal work spaces; so will the new one. The older buildings are full of cafés; the new complex will be, too. Radcliffe said that “the cafés were validated” in Google’s studies, as if anyone were surprised. The existing buildings have a relaxed and casual, even whimsical, quality to their interiors, as if to say that pleasure is a part of efficiency; I’m not sure how Google quantifies this except by seeing how many workers like it, but here, too, the plan is to continue on the same track, even if the new buildings aren’t likely to feel quite as improvised. And as the existing buildings have been retrofitted to conserve energy, the new ones will be even greener. And so on.

A lot of this seems like a statement of the obvious, but then again, lots of data is. And architecture, which is so often form-driven, doesn’t necessarily suffer from a bit more attention to factors other than shapes. “We started not with an architectural vision but with a vision of the work experience,” Radcliffe said. “And so we designed this from the inside out.”

 

LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits | #cre #ccim #sior #sustainability

February 7, 2013 Leave a comment

LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits | GreenBiz.com.

LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits

Published February 06, 2013 ,GreenBiz.com
LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits

 

Once thought to be too costly for commercial buildings, LED lighting is increasingly popping up in warehouses and commercial facilities as part of energy retrofit projects.

Atlas Box, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of protective packaging for electronics and heavy equipment, has embarked on a plan to reduce energy consumption by 55 percent in two facilities by installing LED lighting systems. The two-year retrofit project for installing lighting controls and other energy efficiency measures got underway thanks to a no upfront cost financing program set up by the local utility, National Grid.

Energy, of course, remains a significant cost for buildings and facility managers and “anything we can do to manage and control energy costs gives us a competitive advantage,” said Frank Tavaras, global process engineer with Atlas Box and project leader.

Atlas worked with Groom Energy to perform building energy assessments to map savings opportunities. Tavares said he considered the warehouse’s machinery and power cutting equipment as using the most energy in the three-year old facility. “But we were wrong, lights use more and gave us the opportunity to target something  right away” to save energy.

For Atlas’s interior warehouse lighting, Groom Energy installed a Digital Lumens system enabling occupancy-based lighting and the ability to track and manage the system through software.

Having individual control of each fixture, as well remote monitoring and Web-based dashboard tools, were critical features in selling Tavaras on the project.

Indeed, wireless controls with underlying analytics and data management to help building managers track and monitor energy savings helps justify the investment in new LED technologies, writes Casey Talon with IDC Energy Insights.

In addition to Digital Lumens, there are a number of new players in the market for advanced lighting and with Internet-enabled controls, including  Enlighted, Adura Technologies (which was recently acquired by Acuity Brands), Redwood Systems and Daintree Networks.

But trying to gather the initial capital expense, which ran upwards of $500,000, for retrofitting a seemngly new, three-year old facility was of a tough sell, said Tavares. The company received a number of incentives from the local utility National Grid, including a finance program that covers 70 percent of energy efficiency upgrade costs with an option to finance the remaining 30 percent with no interest over the next two years.

“We are committed to promoting and offering programs that will help our customers save money while reducing their carbon footprint,” said Marcy Reed, president, National Grid, MA in statement about the project. “We’re proud to partner with [Atlas Box] and help defray the costs through program incentives that will make the project a reality.”

Energy efficiency retrofits can produce big savings for commercial building owners with little upfront costs.

FirstFuel, a Boston-based energy analytics startup, released a report today revealing 51 percent of all energy efficiency opportunities could be achieved through low and no-cost operational improvements. They calculated the savings over the entire U.S. commercial building market as a $17 billion opportunity for operational improvements. An infographic showing the energy savings can be found here.LED lighting gaining traction in commercial retrofits | GreenBiz.com.

Categories: Sustainability, Workspace

The Workspace of the Future-Will offices be phased out altogether?#cre #ccim #sior

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

The Workspace of the Future

The office is getting a new look–or being phased out altogether.
By Matt Villano
reimagining-the-workspace

Wondering about the office of the future? It might take more imagination than you think. “Who says there’ll be an office at all?” asks Tom Austin, vice president at Gartner, a Stamford, Conn.-based technology research firm. “Already we work from Starbucks, in the car and at our kids’ softball games.”

Sure, experts like Austin have predicted the obsolescence of the workplace for years, but as technology empowers people to work from any place with an internet connection, it’s starting to look like more small- and medium-size businesses could very well decide to go without on the physical office front.

Take, for instance, Floor64. The media and consulting company maintains a brick-and-mortar space in Sunnyvale, Calif., but also runs a bunch of Skype-powered chat rooms for remote workers–many of which are buzzing for most of the day.

“These [chat rooms], more than anything else, represent our ‘office,'” says CEO Mike Masnick, “and they don’t exist in physical space.”

Several developments have facilitated the rise of a virtual workplace. Nearly 6 million Americans work from home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Cloud computing enables data backups and remote collaboration in real time. And group video chat–videoconferencing 2.0, if you will–has become dirt cheap (or, in the case of Google Hangouts, free).

Even traditional back-office departments are moving toward virtualization. Recently a number of third-party companies have popped up to provide services such as human resources, payroll and benefits. Some of these providers, including Algentis and Insperity, offer customizable online portals for each employee.

Of course many companies–big ones, especially–won’t give up on physical offices entirely. But experts say that in order to succeed, these firms should completely rethink their layouts, creating work environments that provide employees with a range of options.

Gartner’s Austin predicts that rather than the cube farms and conference rooms of yore, workspaces will come to evoke areas of the typical home–open floor plans with couches and soft rugs; cozy, kitchen-like spaces with waist-high countertops; and covered outdoor patios with chaise longues.

Or, says Kevin Kuske–chief brand advocate and general manager for Turnstone, an office-furniture company in Grand Rapids, Mich.–office planners will start to think more like city planners, clumping purpose-built spaces into distinct portions of a building. “Urban centers have entertainment zones, dining zones, even residential zones,” Kuske notes. “For an office to work it needs to take this approach, too.”

This article was originally published in the December  2012 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013.

Page 4 The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013 | Entrepreneur.com.

Categories: Workspace
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