Green Spaces is a coworking space with two locations: one in Denver and one in New York. Their facilities are built for and draw social entrepreneurs with sustainable businesses. I interviewed co-founder, Marissa Feinberg, to learn more about their space and how it can help businesses and independent workers who share these same values.
Why did you decide to co-found Green Spaces and why did you decide to focus on socially conscious businesses?Originally, my cofounder Jennie Nevin and I had a networking group called Green Leaders Global. Environmental leaders would get together and many collaborations would start to bubble. We thought, imagine what could happen if we all worked from the same space, every day. In 2008, we began by announcing we were starting the company with a press release to see the demand. We got inquiries right away, so we knew we needed to start the space. We found a landlord in Brooklyn who was willing to work with us on a shoestring, so we were able to take the risk of launching. We named it “Green Spaces”.
How does your space foster an environment to nurture and grow socially conscious businesses?
We designed Green Spaces for collaboration. The environment is totally open, except for two conference rooms. Therefore, people organically engage with one another, as opposed to separate offices. We also share everything: kitchen, printer, lounge, mailbox, conference rooms, wifi, networking resources, and more.
We’re moving away from that rigid 9-to-5. People want to have a life. They want to work, they want to meet others, they want to make friends. We have intimate cultivation programs that allow this too. We host a bi-weekly idea-bounce lunch over steamed veggie dumplings every Wednesday. In a given week, one’s tablemate could be an industrial designer from Spain; the maker of an online encyclopedia for kids; or the fellow who’s introducing the world’s first fair-trade vodka, made from quinoa, to the U.S. market.
In line with values, we focus on creating strong relationships with environmentally friendly businesses that exist independently from Green Spaces. For example, if a member is looking for catering, we will refer them to a local, organic service. Or if someone is looking for printing, we can refer them to a green printer. These are all businesses with which we have developed relationships via events held at Green Spaces. We want to encourage a local economy of businesses sending business to one another. That’s how we all grow stronger together.
Do you turn down workers looking for a space whose businesses don’t align with your values?
Yes, absolutely. There are two main criteria. First, the business needs to either be values-based or be open to having values-based office infrastructure, observing our onsite, eco-friendly practices. Secondly, the people in the organization need to be open to embracing a space with a sharing-economy culture. The environment is totally open, except for two conference rooms. Therefore, people organically engage with one another, as opposed to separate offices. We also share everything: kitchen, printer, lounge, mailbox, conference rooms, wifi, networking resources, and more.
Tell me a little about the sustainable features within your spaces.
- Energy: We use 100% wind power – no fuel, and no greenhouse gases emitted. Regional and National Wind options are reliable, use no fuel, emit no greenhouse gases, and do not contribute to acid rain.
- Composting system: Food scraps meet our compost rather than the trash.
- Commitment to sustainability: People who host events at our space must use eco-friendly Susty Party supplies
- IT System: Low-power utilization through “cloud”-based storage.
- Business: We promote sustainable practices and partners.
- Recycle: The minimal paper and plastic we use is recycled.
- Maintenance: Chemical-free cleaning supplies, VOC-free paint.
- Plants: Filter air and improve indoor air quality.
- Passive Heating/Cooling System: Insulated walls, bricks store thermal mass.
Are the costs of getting a space there more than other top coworking spaces in the area due the sustainable features?
Our rates are competitive with the New York coworking market.
Why should workers with socially conscious businesses choose to work at your space?
The majority of members at Green Spaces are social entrepreneurs. However, it becomes harder and harder to define what that means as cross-sector collaboration grows. In addition, we also have members who do not work directly in social entrepreneurship, but they like working from a place where they can compost their lunch. They want to be in a community that has values in mind.
From circulating opportunities to our vast network of conscious professionals to facilitating curated connections that catalyze collaborations in this industry, we serve as a convening and informational pipeline for the social enterprise community.
Most recently, Green Spaces helped Carpooling.com gain traction in the U.S. market. Carpooling.com sent Odile Beniflah to head their U.S. communications outreach. She gained a great deal by coming to our events and meeting key media. As a result of the positive work she did, Carpooling.com raised $10 million. We are very proud.
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