Coworking spaces have grown in popularity in recent years, and the environmental community has no complaints. They are often located in central areas that allow their members to walk, bike, or use mass transit to arrive at work. Sharing a space, rather than using individual offices, can also significantly cut down electricity usage and serve more people in the same amount of space. The Village Works (TVW) is a neighborhood coworking space located in Brookline, MA, that has embraced these sustainable values and many more.
As a neighborhood-focused workspace, TVW largely serves people locally, helping them shorten their commute, reducing car traffic and shortening transit trips. And as an alternative to working from home, TVW helps decrease the energy usage of the community as a whole, heating and cooling one building during the day, rather than many individual homes.
In the past year, TVW has made impressive strides in energy usage. In 2018, the coworking space ran on 38% renewable electricity; now in 2019, they proudly increased to 100%. In terms of emissions savings, this change is equivalent to taking six passenger vehicles off the road for an entire year.
The space has also prioritized natural lighting by locating work surfaces near skylights, large windows, and glass doors to reduce electricity usage. The remainder of their lighting is high-efficiency LEDs programmed on motion sensors, an installation that was completed with a no-interest loan from Eversource. Live greenery throughout the space contributes to clean air and member wellness. “Smart thermostats” and occupancy monitors throughout the building allow the business to monitor for HVAC issues and increase efficiency.
Sustainability takes a variety of forms throughout the space. TVW has implemented compost in their common kitchen in partnership with City Compost, reducing landfill output. TVW ensures that clear, proper signage exists for waste disposal to prevent contamination of recycling and compost bins. Members use a list on the bulletin board to inquire whether individual items can be composted, and TVW staff research and respond.
The space also utilizes reusable kitchenware, Green Seal Certified cleaning products, and repurposed furniture wherever possible. They encourage the use of reusable water bottles through a bottle refill station and seltzer tap, and they purchase sustainable products for bathroom items such as bamboo facial tissue.
This holistic approach to sustainability creates a positive impact. The Village Works provides local businesses with a working environment that functions for both their needs and the needs of the planet. Business and sustainability really can go hand in hand, and this Brookline space is the living proof.
By Casey Maslan, a Senior in the Environmental Studies Department at Boston College, and intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.