Does Green Coworking Pay Off?
Since opening in March 2017, VenturePad (VP) has become Marin County, CA’s most popular coworking space and entrepreneurship center by leveraging our culture of sustainability. At the time of opening, the county had no substantial coworking facilities and no incubator. The co-founders, Alejandro Moreno and Chris Yalonis, wanted to fill the gap.
The business’ mission was and continues to be to support and empower impact entrepreneurship. VP rides the trending wave of coworking and the shared economy model. It offers solopreneurs, freelancers, small business owners, and startups an economically and professional alternative to the isolation and distractions of the home office, the café, or the expense of a leased office. Members share open desks and meeting spaces and pay only for what they use, instead of paying for a leased space that they use only a small amount.
As of VenturePad’s three-and-a-half year anniversary, over 450 business entities and individuals have signed on for coworking and meeting room memberships. Larger corporates, nonprofits, and government agencies use the space for team and board meetings, interviews, brainstorming, depositions, ideation, and getting away from the old office for a fresh environment.
VenturePad’s vision for sustainability
From the onset, the founders wanted to reflect their sustainability ethos in the facility’s physical nature, values and culture, and their community impact. They believe that a successful business will thrive with a triple bottom line—a vital economic model, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility.
Before moving in, the 4,000 sq.ft. coworking space was completely redone with green improvements such as sustainably harvested wood floors and desk tops, non-VOC paint, lots of natural light (allowing the lights to be off most of the day), new thermostats, retrofitted LED lighting, smart rooms with sensors, several recycling stations with separated glass/plastics/paper etc. All appliances were replaced with Energy Star versions and plumbing was redone for conservation.
Today, VenturePad has a near zero carbon footprint with 100% of its electricity purchased from renewable sources through our utility, Marin Clean Energy. We use extensive practices in minimizing waste by having a no plastic food packaging policy for guests and members bringing food in and for catering. There are no plastic cups, plates, or utensils used onsite.
Instead, guests and members use VP’s large collection of glassware, metal utensils, and ceramic plateware, thus minimizing waste. Compostables are collected onsite. Recycling bins for plastics, metal, and paper are distributed throughout the facility with clear signage. Members are encouraged to walk, bike, and carpool to the facility. No combustion nor natural gas use occurs onsite. Plus, VP is a California-certified green business and our building is LEED certified, and both founders have graduate degrees in business and sustainability.
Engaging with the community
Furthermore, the VP team has developed community-driven impact initiatives fostering public-private collaboration and social outreach. Examples include projects and gatherings on climate change, clean energy, wellness, healthy food and sustainable agriculture, affordable housing, homelessness, natural resource conservation, and land use.
Since 2017, VP has organized Marin’s annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference. This draws nearly 300 community and business leaders, non-profits, government reps, students, and teachers who are working on the county region’s top environmental and social challenges with best practices in sustainability.
The founders are also active in the local chamber and in the creation and execution of the local climate action plans. VenturePad was named Green Business of the Year in 2018 by the region’s top business network and the top Green Business leader in 2019 by the region’s top environmental group. The company’s green DNA has paid dividends in attracting like-minded members, partners, and sponsors.