Houston Office Space of the Week – Level-5 Design

We always love meeting with our tenants to find out what inspires them. As an architectural design and construction management company, Level-5 Design stood out to us in one of our favorite pieces of architecture, Arena Place. We stopped by to meet with CEO Juan Alaya to get his perspective on the office space and the latest trends in commercial architecture.

Level 5 Design Houston Office Space
Click on the photo above to view the full album!

What does Level-5 Design do?

L5D: We specialize in commercial architecture and construction, but we do everything including interior design. My primary focus is managing the construction sites, and Huang helps me out with the interior design. But we both have a background in design.

Most of my clientele is in the restaurant sector, or just commercial developments – shopping centers and office spaces. I do a lot of dental offices and medical practices.

What’s the story behind your business?

L5D: I have a Bachelors in Architecture, and graduated together with Huang. After that I started working on my licensure, and ended up getting that shortly after I started the company. I worked for an architecture design build firm for 6 years, and started wanting something more challenging and different so I started this firm.

I started this firm on my own and was managing everything. I would do the design and then the construction as well. So, I would draw for x amount of time and it got to the point where I designed at night and would run construction during the day. I have the Surface Pro, which can runs the design programs, so I would be designing in the car a lot of the time. I use the Surface for sketching – I love to sketch. I was waiting for that one thing to come out that could be a computer and a drawing utensil at the same time.

Do you primarily work with clients in Houston?

L5D: We work all over – for example I mentioned a project we were working on in Dallas. My ideal would be all four major cities in Texas. But they’re also so different. Even Sugarland is different than Houston , Missouri City, Baytown or the Woodlands. So you never know what you are going to get in to in terms of permits. Commercial deals with different problems than residential though – it’s more legalese.

How would you describe your style?

L5D: My personal style is very modern, as you can probably tell. I love modernism. If I could do that I would, all of the time.

Mies van der Rohe is my favorite architect and designer – he designed that white chair. The MFAH was done by Mies van der Rohe. That’s the only Mies van der Rohe building here. Houston has a couple of really cool buildings – there’s also the Menil, which is an architectural masterpiece done by Renzo Piano. I could float over there all day.

I’m working my way into art, too. I’m not there yet completely. I’m actually a big fan of graffiti – if I could do my house in graffiti, I think I would. I also really like Pop Art like Andy Warhol, or Surrealism like Salvador Dali.

How do you balance your personal interests with what you do for your clients?

L5D: One time I was watching cake wars – I’ll watch anything that is creative and we all get inspiration from the weirdest places – but there was a girl on the show who wanted her wedding cake to have these specific elements. Three of the cake makers were creating around what she wanted, and there was another lady who made what she felt like she wanted. I remember thinking that I never wanted to be like that. I’m modern, but people like different things, like contemporary or antique.

The one thing I will never sacrifice is function. If something isn’t functional it bothers me. A lot of the time, specifically with residences, I would want to make sure that they were open and fluid, and minimize hallways. It can be a real challenge to design for more traditional tastes. But then there’s also a good chance that if they have traditional tastes, they won’t be coming to me.

I’m actually meeting with a more traditional client this week to discuss if they’d like to do something more expressive with their space. Right now this more modern look is a good direction to go in. Look at all of the McDonald’s that are going up: they’re all hyper modern with open space.

How did you first hear about the Boxer Property?

L5D: It was a referral. I started this company three years ago, and I worked out of my house. It was a smaller office space than this one, and the space got to be a little cramped. I have an engineer who also works in Arena, so I came by and they toured me, and I liked the space. I had to repaint it, because it was all white. I feel like this building has aged well. And they recently redid this office building.

Level – 5 Office Space Amenities in Houston

What are the needs and amenities that you looked for when finding your office space:

L5D: They are really on top of the maintenance – the person who balances this building always does a really good job on the AC and the elevators.

The elevators are always there. It’s like they’re always waiting for me. We install elevators in some of our projects, so I’m really particular. Every elevator I get into, I’ll see who made it. I’m completely aware of how it’s functioning and how much it costs. Most elevators are terrible.

How does the daily workflow of your business inform the use of your office space?

L5D: Most of my meetings are off site; I’m mainly offsite. I’ll be in the office for maybe 2 hours a day, and then I’m running around. In terms of office space, I can never have enough printers. I can never have enough space. If I let it, it will be full of drawings.

I am a contractor, so I do work with a lot of subcontractors. If you point out anything in here, I know how to get it, and who installed it, and how much it costs. It bothered me for a while because I didn’t know how things were built. In architecture school they don’t teach you that at all. We felt like when we got out of architecture school, they didn’t prepare us enough. We all started pushing to get on with an architecture firm and learn, and you realize that it’s totally different than school.

As you can see, I can’t have enough screens. If I could have 17 screens I would have 17 screens with drawings, pdf, excel, word all around the office. They really do help. My big thing is tech – if it’s there I need to use it. And if I’m not using it, I’m falling behind. I have my Note, my Surface Pro, my computer here, my computer at home, my truck. I have two mice and I like to sketch a lot when I have the time.

If I were back in school, I wouldn’t worry as much about what the professors thought of me. I always needed to see a point to what I was doing, and there were a lot of times when I didn’t see the point. I wouldn’t draw something if I didn’t know exactly how I was going to build it, and keep it within a budget. There’s so much to it.

Developments in Level – 5 Office in Houston

What changes have been happening lately, or are around the corner? Have you seen an increase in clients lately, with all of the recent developments in Houston?

L5D: Everywhere! Up North in Spring the Exxon Campus just opened, so that was a big flux. There’s been a giant flux in Katy Fwy too. My friend who works for the company that did the Asia house is also on the Phillips Company project. The Phillips Company is on Beltway and Westheimer. So if you see a ton of cranes and four buildings going up, that’s that project. The Exxon campus was the big one, and everything else went around it. But they all started competing at the same time. Shell started putting up their buildings, and then BP started putting up their buildings too.

What’s next on the horizon for Level 5 Designs? How is your company evolving or growing in the office space?

L5D: I’ll probably need more space pretty soon, depending on how many more people we bring on. I need space for peripherals. This year has been pretty busy for all of us.

For more information about Level-5 Design & Construction Management, visit their website at level-5.net, or hit them up on Twitter @level5designs.

The Rise of “Green” Commercial Real Estate in Houston

Green commercial real estate in HoustonIt’s an established fact that everything’s bigger in Texas, and that is especially true in the city of Houston. A boom-town in the truest sense of the word, Houston has seen consistent growth as an international port since the discovery of oil at the turn of the 20th century. Owing much of its economic success to its close ties to the oil and natural gas industries, environmentally-friendly superlatives are a new addition to the vocabulary used discussing the city. That image is changing though, as the trend sweeping commercial real estate houston  – The WoodlandsSugar Land metropolitan area can be described as “going green.”

Green Commercial Development in Houston

Although the companies occupying many of the Houston office spaces are known for “black gold”, these same companies have been making achievements in green development and commercial sustainability over the past decade – a welcome trend. One of the “marquee” green development projects that helped catalyze the growing bias is Discovery Green. An elegant 12-acre illustration of how natural beauty can be seamlessly integrated with a bustling, urban environment, this park in downtown Houston celebrated its 6th birthday in 2014. The park was constructed over six years through the combined effort of the City of Houston and private interests, and might be considered the green “heart” of Houston’s sustainable commercial developments. A recent study found that more than half of Houston’s commercial spaces downtown are considered “green”. Houston also ranks in the top cities in the nation for the number of Energy Star and LEED-certified commercial properties.

Sustainability’s Staying Power

Commercial development is like fashion, in that new trends come and go almost like clockwork. The design trends of today almost always come with an expiration date, and it can be tempting to dismiss sustainable projects in an historically oil-friendly city like Houston as nothing more than the design du jour. Tempting as it may be, it would almost certainly be a mistake; the tangible benefits, and still growing popularity, of green development are hard to argue with:

Synergy: Commercial developments that use an environmentally conscious approach to planning create more than just utilitarian workspaces. A consequence of designing sustainable projects is that they produce extremely “livable” environments, which attract people and businesses to an area. One such development is a mixed-use project being built in near Houston on 48 acres of land west of Texas 288. The end result of the development will be a combination of residential homes, offices and retail space, and green spaces.

Recognition: Green development is about more than just creating attractive spaces for people and businesses to move into. Because the goal and result of these types of projects is something that benefits society as a whole through a smaller collective impact on the environment, businesses and developers can receive positive recognition. One of the most well-known ways for companies to showcase their commitment to sustainability is by receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Savings: At the end of the day creating synergies between commercial, residential, and natural components of a community, or being recognized for environmental friendliness are only two supplemental reasons for why the trend of green development is here to stay (in Houston and around the country). Green office design also provides tremendous savings by reducing the overhead of a commercial property. One of the primary effects of “going green” is to reduce the energy, water, and landscaping requirements of a property through the intelligent application of sustainable design techniques and modern energy-saving technologies.

Existing office buildings can also be updated or maintained in a way to make them more sustainable. On Boxer’s front, our BEST (Boxer Energy & Sustainability Tracking) program improves energy use in Houston office buildings – as well as those in other markets – through upgrades such as lighting retrofits, power factor management, energy use management, and window film installation.

Houston Office Space of the Month: Ranchland Network

When Boxer completed renovations at 1322 Space Park in Houston, the new Boxer Work style co working executive suites began to swiftly fill up with tenants. We were eager to find out who these new tenants were! Trey Bonner of Ranchland Network , a United Country Real Estate company, has more in common with us than being a tenant. Ranchland is a thriving real estate brokerage for ranchers, with a savvy marketing and sales strategy to set Trey up for success in his new Houston office .

Ranchland Network

As a real estate broker, Trey understands the relevance of our Workstyle spaces. These executive suites with shared common areas, such as conference rooms, are a great way to meet with prospects in affiliate cities like Dallas where his boots-on-the-ground agents are located. The suites are a more private, professional and relaxing location for a client meeting than a restaurant or coffee shop.

Office Amenities Wanted!

What were the needs and amenities that you looked for when finding your office space, and what was the hardest part about relocating?

RL: We leased this space in the end of June 2014, which was the first time that it was available. I had been looking for new space. I used to be on the south side of Clear Lake . But with my new franchise affiliation, United Country Real Estate, I bought the rights for Harris County. So I needed to move across the river. I stopped by randomly one day. Marie showed me around and it was very nice. I asked the girls if they minded holding it for me for a week while I went to a franchise class in Missouri, and they said it wouldn’t be a problem. At the time there were six new suites in the front of the building, and none of them were leased out.

I had to get approval from my franchise, so I took pictures and went up for my mandatory class. When I got back here, every single space was leased out! It was crazy. I knew I had to sign a lease really quickly or I would regret it.

Most of the time I prop my door open so I can hear a little background noise. It’s great having a glass door to the front of the suite.

amenities common area houston

What is United Country Real Estate?

RL: United Country is a rural brokerage company that has been around since 1922. They have over 400 offices in the United States, offices in China coming on board, as well as offices in Australia and Costa Rica. They do a phenomenal job marketing ranches through the internet. Their Google placement is on the first page for pretty much any term related to buying ranches in Texas. They are a huge support group for small ranch brokerage companies. They have 25 people in their office who do nothing but help us market properties, help us with our Google Analytics, and non-stop support. They also have a handful of tech people in Austin to help support the program. United Country operates over 3,500 websites.

United Country does a great job. The guys who bought them in 2006 were successful tech guys. They thought the future of United Country would be online through Google Analytics, so over the past 8 years they built the company around tech. Eight out of ten ranch buyers shop on the internet for their ranch before they ever call a ranch broker. So if we can reach out and find them first on the internet, then we have a better chance of them calling us.

conference room ranchland

Ranchland’s Story of Success

What’s the story behind your business?

RL: Ranchland is a ranch brokerage company based out of Houston, TX. We have boots on the ground agents spread out around Texas. We cover all of Texas and we like being headquartered in Houston because there are a lot of our clients here. I reach out, make connections, give them to our agents out in the field, and then we sell ranches. We operate under RLN Properties, and have a gentleman in the office here named Peyton Lumpkin who does all of our commercial brokerage. The majority of our ranch buyers are business people here in town with commercial properties and businesses. Most of the time we will also get some business from them selling a trucking yard or building, or represent them on leased space.

desk space ranchland office

 

How many field agents do you have? Do you go out to meet them, or do they come in to meet you in your space, or is it all remote?

RL: We have six agents across Texas now from Dallas, Austin, South Texas, and Mason. We do everything over the telephone. The agents are all mobile. I’m really interested in your virtual executive corporate office program because if my agent in West Texas goes to San Antonio or Austin to meet with someone, he can go to the Boxer Workstyle virtual office . That gives us a presence in these markets and makes us more professional to have a place to meet other than a coffee shop or a restaurant, which is really loud and aggravating. I’ve done it a million times, but it’s really uncomfortable. Neither you nor the client ever appears to be relaxed.

common reception area ranchland

What did you do before you worked at Ranchland? How did you get into the ranching business?

RL: I’ve always been a sportsman and an outdoors guy. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Texas Wildlife Association. We’re working on an organization that is built to defend and support private landowner rights in Texas. We spend time at the Capitol lobbying with our state representatives on specific bills that defend private landowner rights like water, air, or the big wind turbines that you see. We’re a voice for the private landowner.

I was very interested in the outdoors and real estate, and land in general. I wanted to figure out how to make a living out of it without being a cattle rancher or a farmer. This is a great way for me to do that because I’m a people person. I love the landowners – the people who own legacy ranches that have been in the family for hundreds of years. I’m actually part of a family ranch in Callahan County, which is close to Abilene Texas. It’s been in our family since 1877. During your generation, you get to be the land steward of your ranch. You take care of it, and you get to make any improvements to it that you can. My specific interest is white tailed deer. We raise a few white tailed deer and sell them for deer hunts, and we do a few dove hunts and Rio Grande turkey hunts. I’m actually on my way to Abilene today – we have 8 hunters who will be meeting with us to hunt this weekend.

houston office space Ranchland Network

Ranchland Office’s Daily Workflow

How does the daily workflow of your business inform the way you use your office? When you meet with your clients, do you ever meet with them in your space?

RL: Not very often do clients come in here, but when they do they are very impressed that we have a storefront with signage and a real vehicle, rather than just being some guy working out of the back of his truck. Having that storefront is very, very important.

office desk ranchland

How is your company evolving in the office space? What changes have been happening lately, or are around the corner?

RL: I’m looking to expand into the Woodlands and McKenzie area. I have a couple of agents in those areas that we are talking with to come on board, and it would be great to have a location in the Woodlands where I didn’t have to have a full office with Wi-Fi and phones, where they could just have a good quiet professional place to meet.

meeting space ranchland

I just came back from an auction school. In the Midwest and East Coast, a lot of the ranch land is sold through auction. In Texas an auction has always been a scary word. People think that’s a foreclosure. In the Midwest though, they have proven that when you have buyers sitting at the fence line looking at your property, you can get them off the fence and competing by putting on an auction.

United Country has an auction franchise program. They are encouraging all of their agents to be licensed for auctions. I went to the school, and now we are being licensed to sell ranch land and farms here in Texas. In the farm business, if a farmer retires his retirement plan is selling out. He has a real genuine estate sale where all of his neighbors come out. They sell pickups, tractors, horses, cattle, the homestead, ranch and farm property. It takes about 90 days to market an auction, put it on, and you immediately get funded.

What inspires you?

RL: As a kid I worked at a gas station. I learned through that, that customer service is the most important thing. Communicating with the customer is the most important. Through that I was inspired to be in the outdoors, provide the best customer service that I could, and make enough money to support my family and my habits.

Houston Office Space of the Week – Shaw Dashian

Arena Place has undergone exciting new renovations and amenities lately, and so have our tenants there. One of the recent additions in houston office building, ShawDashian is a full-service Marketing and PR firm that specializes in mending broken wings, with an eclectic flair.

We caught up with Maria Southall-Shaw, General Manager, in their bold new office space, designed in daring red and black. A spacious view of the Houston office skyline is out the window at 7322 Southwest Freeway and abstract paintings energize the walls between window vignettes of adjacent offices. Maria loves the way that ShawDashian has more flexible options in their office space as a tenant with a property management company like Boxer. The company has been growing like a fish since they partnered with Shadow Creek Ranch to start the HOA Newsletter Magazine!

Shaw Dashian Houston Office Space
Click on the photo above to view the full album!

 

What is the hardest part about relocating?

SD: Although we are a new client to the Boxer property (3 months), we aren’t new to leased space. We have had three other office locations.

Relocating is always a nightmare, but the hardest things about relocating are the actual and intrinsic costs associated with a move – everything from changing letterhead, accounts and downtime, to reestablishing yourself within the community.

Amenities Of ShawDashian Office Space

What were the needs and amenities that you looked for when finding your office space?

SD: We are probably one of your most discriminating clients. We prefer our business in a high-rise office with a view, property security, a parking garage, janitorial, access to a major freeway, a cafeteria, and professional on-site management.

I came here because I loved your marketing first. I didn’t even know this building. I like the access here to the Galleria area and Sugar land. And then I have to tell you – PJ, he’s amazing. When I came into the space I was leery. When you’re considering moving, you’re on the fence. I hate moving, relocating is just wrong, and so is making a long-term commitment.

PJ educated me about the Arena Place building , showed me some floorplans, and I came in to see the space. I kept saying “I need about 7000 SF”. And I kept looking at it, and then I kept saying, well “How do I get a kitchen?” and “How do I get more windows?” So we just kept doing this back and forth, where I would shoot him an email and within minutes he would send me one back.

Then I said this one feels good. It feels good. Can I change it a little? He said as long as it’s within guidelines – don’t take down walls or anything.

I love Boxer and the its executive suites . I came in here with the intention to do one year, and I’m doing five. And now I’m talking to PJ about leasing another suite too across the floor on the other side of the elevators and continue my theme.

I enjoy having the energy of all of these other businesses in the same floor, too. Because when you walk in to work no matter how you feel – if business is down or business is up – you know that everyone in here is focused on doing the same thing: moving forward, growing and developing. So you draw off of their energy.

I am so upset that I didn’t find Boxer 5 years ago! I kept moving around every year because I just kept growing, like a fish.

What’s the story behind your business?

SD: ShawDashian Group is as unique as our name. Shaw (last name) D (the big D -my son Devin), ash (my daughter’s name is Ashley). I named my company after my children because as a parent, every day when I go to work and see their names I know that I’m doing it for them. That’s my motivation, my focus, maintains our integrity.

We are a full-service Marketing and PR firm that understands not only ROI, but our clients and needs. We partner with our clients as if their business is our business. It’s a true partnership customized to be successful. We are also the publishers of an amazing unique company, HOA News Mag.  We create customized official association newsletters with a 98% readability. Our goal is to create a partnership between the HOA management company, the Boards of Directors, the Residents and Local Businesses. ShawDashian is formally in our fifth year now – as of August 23rd – and we have 13 employees (a baker’s dozen).

We have team members with over 20 years in Telecom Operations, 20+ years in all phases of Printing, 20+ years as a lead graphic and design artist, 10+ years in travel sales, 20+ years in mail distribution and the list goes on and on.

What did you do before ShawDashian?

SD: Everyone on our team has years of experience working in corporate America. My background is in sales and marketing working for Home Box Office (HBO) for over 23 years before I started my own thing. I was on projects like Sex and the City, Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, and I was with De La Joya on the Golden Boy Tour. I was the handler for these boxers in Vegas. Our role was to make sure they showed up to their signings, made it to the weigh-in, and showed up at the fight. On my projects like Sex and the City and the Sopranos, our role was to travel around and market the shows.

When we started to create Sex and the City when it first came out, we only had 3 episodes. But we hyped the show so that you felt like you knew the characters before you knew the product. We did that for the Sopranos too. But I learned that I was good at marketing. You can tell by your ratings how you are doing in your market, and my section always did very well. It was the greatest job in the world.

How was the company formed?

SD: When I left that major marketing group, I saw how bad a lot of the branding and marketing had turned in other industries. Then Cooke & Brothers, the developers out in Vegas, hired me to manage Shadow Creek Ranch, a master planned community in Pearland. I didn’t know anything about property maintenance, but I do know contract law and marketing. So I came in, saved them $2 million from their budget, and fixed their marketing. I’m still on contract with them there.

When I started working with HOA, I realized they do a lot of amazing things behind the curtain. Residents don’t realize what the HOA should be doing for them. So I went to the Board of Directors, and the developers out in Vegas and I started telling them they need to communicate what this group does for the residents, and do a better job at it. The local businesses need to have support, so the community will support the businesses. The Board of Directors needs a vehicle of a communication tool, and the residents need something so they can learn and speak back to the HOA. So we created HOA News Mag. They’re all customized for the association, and written by the association. We will have over 300 of these that we produce every year. They are made by the Board. We do a paper copy, a flipbook and a pdf. We are the publishers and the producers of HOA News Mag. So we revolutionized the HOA newsletter to be more resourceful and proactive in the neighborhood, rather than reactive.

We champion broken things and make them right. I always want to find the one with the broken wing, and then I want to fix it. The issue is manpower, resources, and I want to do it right, so I take baby steps.

Daily workflow ShawDashian

How does the daily workflow of your business define the way you use your office space?

SD: As a Marketing and PR firm, we are constantly in creative mode. Our world requires us to be able to see not only a glass half-full, but the potential of the open space within the glass. Our suite allows us to surround ourselves with open spaces which encourages us to collaborate with team members. We also have the ability within our amazing suite to go behind a closed door and focus in privacy with the cityscape of Houston right outside our window !

You know when your niche is right because it’s not uncomfortable to you. It’s kind of like this office – when I came in the walls weren’t painted, the furniture wasn’t here and the art wasn’t here. I didn’t own any of this. I just walked into a shell.

Other people thought the office was chopped up kind of weird because it has windows between the offices, and suggested I could do something with them. I wanted to leave them alone. They’re different. They help open up the space, and are also an art piece. When you go up to a mirror or a window, you want to look through it. Even when you already know what is on the other side – because you were just over there – you still find yourself looking past it. It’s part of the art to grab you and engage you when you are in the office. Mirrors and windows are gateways.

I definitely don’t want traditional – I like a more eclectic look. It’s very important to me that everything is recycled – nothing in here is brand new. I had the chairs reupholstered. I went to auctions for everything. These are steel-cased desks that have been painted. All of the paintings are recycled.

I’ve always been red, black and silver, white for my company. But everything in here is green. My whole organization is eco-friendly. The key in marketing is to take something and recreate it. I want my team members to understand that you can take what someone else would consider as junk and turn it into gold. You can tell by the office, in pulling it together and what we did.

And this desk has a lot of history – it’s fifty years old. It will be here when I am gone. I hope someone repaints it again though! (laughs)

How is ShawDashian evolving in the office space? What changes have been happening lately, or are around the corner?

SD: We were fortunate to work with PJ, who is an amazing Boxer management consultant. He didn’t tell us what we needed – he asked us and then gave us options. Our office is more than four walls – it is our inspiration and reminder of the opportunity for our businesses. Some would say it’s our “business getaway”. Since we have moved into our new office, business is booming, our networks have expanded and the possibilities are endless. We are expanding our markets to include Austin, Dallas and San Antonio over the next 10 months!

What inspires you?

SD: The ability to make a difference: with my family, business, clients, community or the world in which we live! It’s not about the dollar – it should never be about the dollar. The money will come, but the love in what you’re doing has to be there first. You have to love what you are doing and be good, so that you can push yourself every day to get better and better.

Best of the BEST: Window Film Infographic

Read this infographic to find out how we used window films to make the LEED-EB Hurt Building in Atlanta more energy efficient and save over $86,000 in annual utility bills. For more details about window installation in the Boxer Energy & Sustainability Tracking (BEST) program visit our Window Film Installation article or view the BEST Window Film Case Study.

widow film infographic

Best of the BEST: Window Film Installation

bestlogomainYou’re probably already very familiar with the phenomenon of solar heat gain, if not the nitty-gritty science behind it. Basically, it’s the reason we (begrudgingly) close the shades at home on hot, sunny days – and it’s the cause for some very steep cooling bills. For many buildings, window film solves the problem of being able to let sunlight in without overheating the work environment.

How do window films work?

how-window-films-work

A window film is a thin, tacky material that you coat the window with. The technology used for the window film is good, so you can’t see it unless you look really closely. The film only allows visible light to come through, but not heat and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This keeps the inside of a building from heating up when the sun is shining on it.

Our 50 Hurt Plaza property in Atlanta was one of those overheating buildings. Built between 1913 and 1924, the Hurt Building is one of Atlanta’s first skyscrapers that incorporated modern amenities in its classic architecture. At the time it was the largest building in the south. This historical building is currently listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, won the 2014 Southern Region Historical Category TOBY Award, and is the oldest office building in Georgia to achieve a LEED-EB Platinum certification. The BEST program improvements to the property’s performance through efficiency, energy conservation, and improved systems directly contribute to the quality of the office building.

Of the Hurt Building’s 436,340 square feet spread over 18 floors, we determined that 62% of the available window area needed to be filmed – roughly 19,500 square feet! Not every window in a building need have high-tech film installed; only those that receive a large amount of direct sunlight.

On those windows, we installed HanitaTek Medium Silver 35 film. This is a reflective film designed for maximum efficiency at a competitive price, with a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.32. The lower the SHGC, or “G-value,” the more heat is rejected. In this case, the windows with film installed achieved a 67% solar energy rejection rate.

Let’s crunch the numbers. Project costs, including materials, labor and taxes, totaled $50,411. The resulting annual utility savings generated by a reduced solar load? $86,685! In other words, it only took seven months to “pay back” the project costs, and the building will continue reaping the savings on utilities for years to come. And lest we forget, the less it takes to cool the building, the more we reduce energy usage – and that’s always a good thing. See the complete Window Film Installation Business Case here.

Another simple solution … another mighty return on investment (172%). It’s what BEST is all about: making the changes that make sense, both financially and environmentally. The only question that remains is, what would YOU do with that kind of annual savings?

For more information about how the BEST program improves the efficiency of office buildings, visit our Lighting Retrofits case study or the Cost-Benefit Analysis tool.

Houston Office Space of the Week – HostGator

HostGator, a worldwide provider of dedicated web hosting, was one of the largest commercial real estate leases of 2013 in Houston. Their corporate headquarters at 5005 Mitchelldale Street occupies 61,056 square feet of the four-story office building near the intersection of I-290 and 610.

Host Gator: Houston office space of the week
Click on the photo above to view the full album!

We were interested to see how they were faring in their new Houston office space , so we dropped by to meet up with Doug Benitez, Houston Regional Director, for a tour of the property. One of the first things we saw in the reception area was an oversized stuffed Snappy the Gator, the HostGator mascot, a quirky blue gator that helps them stand out among other hosting options.

HostGator is known for their great internal customer service. They have 24/7 phone, email, chat, and social media teams, and the workspace in Houston is set up to reinforce these teams. The office space does have the familiar rows of cubicle workstations frequent in technology companies, but they take an open office space approach in that employees can choose which space to work in. The walls are wrapped with fun gator-themed riffs on popular cartoon characters by graphic artist Joe Stutzman.

What was the hardest part about relocating?

DB: Since our business operates 24/7, the most difficult part was coordinating between the movers and our staff to make sure that everything was set up properly with minimal impact to our employees and our customers.

Office Amenties In Host Gator Office Space

What were the needs and amenities that you looked for when finding your office space:

DB: As a growing company, our main focus was to find a location that had ample office space and parking that could support our long-term needs. For years we were split between two different locations in the Houston area, but both limited our plans for expansion. We were fortunate enough to find this property last year. This is a great space because it’s really open, and we’re excited to expand in it as we continue growing.

What’s the story behind the business? (How long has HostGator been in business, how many employees, what does HostGator do? And how was the company formed?)

DB: HostGator was founded in 2002 by Brent Oxley, who started the company in his dorm room while attending Florida Atlantic University. Since then, we’ve grown into a world leading – industry recognized hosting provider hosting over 9 million domains. We provide shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated web hosting services. We have nearly 500 employees in our Houston office and are continuing to grow. Two years ago Brent sold the company to Endurance International.

What did you do before HostGator?

DB: Prior to HostGator, I was an Internet Entrepreneur focusing on advertising and marketing. I ran several successful websites which created a large visitor base bringing in advertising revenue. I’ve been with the company for 6 years. All of the other upper management in the Houston Corporate office started out on the front lines doing customer support.

Daily workflow of HostGator Office Space

How does the daily workflow of your business inform the use of your space?

DB: The floorplan and location of offices within the different building wings has been really conducive to the successful workflow of our different departments by allowing us to segment the areas that we need. The 2-story office suite features private conference rooms, single offices and open cubicle spaces for support, sales and billing departments of the company. There’s no assigned seating, but lots of extra space. People tend to go to the same desk every day. Designated breakout areas throughout the office space create privacy for collaborative discussions between teammates.

We did research on lighting to understand what the best type/level of lighting is for employee productivity. It’s important to us since our employees spend a lot of time at the computers. Some employees like the lighting and others don’t. For instance, some people prefer more of a living room type office with no overhead lighting and a standing lamp.

More importantly, the layout of the building has given us the opportunity to enjoy the perks we had in our old building, as well as adding several new dimensions to help with employee engagement. With the extra space, we’ve added a cafeteria that also has room to hold game room items like a Ping-Pong table and arcade games. We’ve also recently added a gym and a dedicated video game room for lounging, watching TV, and hosting video game tournaments.

Do all employees work in the office, or do you have remote workers?

DB: Since we’re a web hosting company, there are security concerns around working from home. Also, it’s great for morale for people to be in the office and to engage with them face to face. It’s part of the company culture. The company culture is young, fun, it can be fast-paced, casual and constantly changing. There is lots of opportunity for advancement.

How is HostGator growing in the space?

DB: We have been fortunate enough to be able to continue to expand our workforce and now have the extra space to accommodate the new employees. We’ve also been able to create new training areas that can accommodate both small and large groups so that we can invest more in our employees. In addition, the numerous private offices and conference rooms allows our leaders to conduct meetings more frequently.

HostGator has a good range of international business, and surprisingly enough language barriers are low. They mainly use Google translate and Spanish speakers – the overnight team sees most of this traffic. But most people speak pretty good English.

What inspires you?

DB: Morale is a big priority because the philosophy at HostGator is to keep the employees happy in order to keep the customers happy when they call in for support. The upper management at the company has all risen through the ranks from customer support positions, so they have a good understanding of the demands of the work.

Since employees are frequently on the front lines of customer service, HostGator is big on employee perks. We have added in several game rooms, a workout room, provide a free employee lunch to every day in the cafeteria, and have an in-house masseuse. We regularly do quarterly company outings. The latest one was to Oil Ranch, a big outdoor amusement area with a bouncey house and other family-friendly activities. Recently HostGator hosted a pre-screening for a private X-Men movie at the movie theater with free concessions for employees.

I’m still an entrepreneur by heart and continue to take risks on new ideas that are constantly coming to mind. Many of the inspirations have been the new startup companies selling for millions if not billions of dollars, with outside-the-box ideas that benefit people in their everyday lives. Technology is a big part of my life, which I plan on contributing to, with hopes that one day an idea of mine will take off.

Visit HostGator at www.HostGator.com or find them on Twitter @hostgator or on Facebook at facebook.com/HostGator.

If you’re looking for your own office like this in Houston, check out this helpful Office Space Search of our available properties in Houston.

Houston Executive Suites of the Week – LG Entertainment Office

While visiting the Boxer Workstyle space on the fourth floor at 2855 Mangum , we caught a glimpse of LG Entertainment’s office space, and knew we had to come back to meet the tenants. The wedding entertainment company has a fascinating paper flower installation spilling across the walls of two neighboring suites. The walls are also used to showcase a projector gallery of photographs from successful parties LG Entertainment has thrown.

We sat down with Lewis Grell, the founder of LG Entertainment, to hear about his experience with Work style and how his company has grown in the space. Since he works in the entertainment industry specializing in weddings, Lewis collaborates frequently with other wedding contractors and also has a constant influx of clients to his office suite. The executive suite layout with shared common areas has worked very well for him, as other wedding professional services have been drawn to the space to work with him.

Executive Suites of the Week LG Entertainment
Click on the photo to view the full album!

As one of our Workstyle tenants, what has your experience in the space been so far?

LG: It’s an open office space concept and we share it with other people. It’s definitely worked out very well for me in the way I have everything structured. I cater to my clients a lot of the time in the evening or sometimes earlier in the day. Since I’m the type of business that does that, I’ll have six clients scheduled to all come in at around the same time. I’ll have one in this room, one in the other room, one in the conference room and one in the common area. So this makes the environment feel very alive and social, and we’re not the only ones in the space either. It’s very busy. When I had a 3,000 SF office, if I had 2 clients there it was packed and it felt so claustrophobic.

There’s definitely a lot more value to it. It’s almost easier on the tenant to make payments on shared spaces versus larger spaces with larger rents. Turnover is less likely to happen. It’s been very popular and we have a lot in construction right now. It leases out really quickly.

How did you come to be at one of our Boxer Workstyle locations?

LG: I got lucky. My lease was almost up at another Boxer property. I remember when I was looking for a space 5 years ago before I signed a lease there, I wanted to move toward the 610 area to be more convenient to my clients. This time Boxer asked me to check out this new space on Mangum.

I walked in and I wanted to sign a contract right away. I asked her about the floors, if they were going to cover them up with carpet or leave the concrete. She said there would be concrete floors in the common areas and carpet in the private executive suites. I have a lot of entrepreneur friends in New York, and the interior design really gives the space the feel of a New York shared working space style.

I signed before construction had even finished. It’s a cool space where you can come and go and interact with your neighbors, it’s not so closed off. In this suite we have a nonprofit next door and a coordinator on the other side. We’re an event industry theme in this space, which is nice.

Relocation Into Boxer Property

What was the biggest challenge about relocating?

LG: When I moved I had an open house with all of my wedding industry vendors. Everybody said to me, “Lewis, not only did you go from like 3,000 SF to 300 SF, and you also relocated.” It’s quite a change in space and financially too, so it’s a great win for everyone. Everybody was asking me if there was going to be more space available at Mangum and I said yes they’re actually constructing one upstairs. So I had a vendor move up there, and I had a coordinator and invitations girl move in too. That was only in this building, and when I looked online a few months ago I saw there was so much more Workstyle space being developed, which is great.

So you DJ music, do you play live music too?

LG: Yes, but the guitar is just a doorstop – it’s one of those out of the box type conversation starter type things. We also do lighting. I team up with a lot of photographers and use their work to display to my clients what this hue of lighting looks like at their venue. I’ll have a DJ back there playing music, too. The more comfortable the clients feel, the better the event goes.

What’s the history behind your business and how you got into it?

LG: For me it started as a hobby on the weekend, and then I took a leap of faith 5 or six years ago and started building up a staff. Now I have about 30 people working underneath me. A lot of them don’t have office desks, they come in for meetings and do all of the execution on the events. Here in the office we have about 5 people in 3 spaces.

What did you do before LG Entertainment?

LG: I was a store manager for T-Mobile. I managed 3 or 4 stores on the corporate side. Before that I served in the US Marines and did a tour in Iraq.

How do you see LG Entertainment growing in the space? What’s next?

LG: I would really like to see this Workstyle concept in other cities. I would really like to expand to Dallas, and I’d love to have a similar look over there in Austin and San Antonio as well. We do events from coast to coast, but we do a lot of events in the nearby cities. It makes it a lot easier if we have a space like this available there to meet with clients.

* We have coworking space available in Dallas, Atlanta, multiple locations in Houston and many projects in construction. For more information about Workstyle space visit http://www.boxerworkstyle.com/

What’s the wildest wedding or event that you have been to or thrown?

LG: I had a client who entered from the roof – a section of the roof came down and they stepped off. There was another couple that came in on a black limo and it parked in the middle of the dance floor. In another one where, people married in the Edison library downtown. It was very nice, the flowers were beautiful. But they were probably one of the wildest, craziest families breaking it down on the dance floor. I like my job. It’s kind of cool.

Where do the paper flowers on your suite’s walls come from?

LG: A lady named Christine from the Ukraine designed them. They are paper. She designed the other office first, and then we converted this office into a meeting space as well so the other one has a flat screen on the wall whereas in this one we threw a projector image on the wall to give it a clean look.

To learn more about LG Entertainment or book them for an event, visit their website at www.lgentertainers.com or find them on Twitter @LGEntertainers.

If you’re looking for your own office like this in Houston , check out this helpful Office Space Search for available properties .

Advantages of Office Space in Southwest Houston

Southwest Houston mapChoosing where to set up an office in Houston presents a unique challenge because of the vast options. With over 634 square miles of land inside the city limits, and 10,062 square miles in the greater Houston metropolitan area, it can be downright daunting unless you know something about the different areas of the city.

Unlike most large cities, Houston has no zoning. This means that office space in Houston can be located anywhere in the city, right alongside residential communities and industrial areas. If you look at a map of Houston , it resembles a spoked wheel. In the center, is an area Houstonians refer to as “Inside the Loop.” This area is constrained by the 610 Loop. In this area are several unique neighborhoods, including the Downtown business district. The major freeway that runs through it usually refers to the various areas outside the 610 Loop.

While the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber of Commerce’s definition includes the cities of Bellaire, Southside Place and West University Place, most Houstonians refer to the boundary lines of Southwest Houston as the pie-shaped wedge situated outside the 610 Loop, between Westheimer Road on the north and South Post Oak Road on the east, and fans out to just beyond Beltway 8 to the west. Above that is Northwest Houston , which also has a healthy workforce and extensive office benefits.

Thriving Businesses of Southwest Houston

The area to the southwest, or Southwest Houston, is one of the most densely populated areas in the city, and has the largest variety of international businesses. Contrary to the layout of many large cities, Houston’s population center is not concentrated close to downtown but in the suburbs, particularly in Southwest Houston.

Houston Businesses

Some well-known businesses that have their headquarters in Southwest Houston include:

  • China Airlines Houston Office (headquarters)
  • Halliburton (Houston Office at Oak Park)
  • Houston Baptist University (main campus)
  • Houston Community College (two locations)
  • KPRC-TV (Channel 2, NBC affiliate)
  • La Subasta Inc. (headquarters, formerly El Día, Inc.)
  • Men’s Wearhouse (headquarters)
  • MetroCorp Bancshares (headquarters, a subsidiary MetroBank)
  • National Oilwell Varco (headquarters)
  • Rice Epicurean Markets (headquarters since 1960)
  • Southwestern National Bank (headquarters)

In fact, there are more banks per square mile in the neighborhoods in Southwest Houston than in any other area in Houston!

Office Location Amenities: Malls in Houston

Four malls make their home in Southwest Houston:

  • PlazAmericas Mall
  • Meyerland Plaza
  • Westwood Mall
  • Westbury Square

Also included numerous specialty shops, strip centers, restaurants, service businesses and entertainment venues.

Nearby Hospitals Include:

The area’s top hospitals include the West Houston Medical Center, Westbury Hospital and Southwest Memorial Hermann Hospital call Southwest Houston. There’s also a regional airport (Andrau Airpark) and bus service by Houston METRO with routes running 24-hours a day to the Houston Medical Center and Downtown areas. A light rail extension planned for both the Greater Sharpstown and Westbury areas makes the Southwest area even more appealing for any business wanted to relocate here now.

Office space in Southwest Houston

The Southwest Houston Advantage

Southwest Houston’s biggest asset is its affordability. With some of the most affordable housing in Houston and close proximity to major employment centers and corporate headquarters, Southwest Houston is an ideal location for working professionals. The area is brimming with a relatively young workforce, with an average age of 34 years old.

Southwest Houston Development

The region developed in the 1960s as the immigrant population grew in Houston. Since the immigrant population was well educated and brought wealth with them when they came to Houston, the region steadily grew and developed an infrastructure conducive to raising a family. The cultural diversity also led to an explosion of niche businesses positioned to meet the needs of these diverse populations.

Southwest Houston has since become the alternative to the high rents inside the Loop and Uptown Galleria . With the arrival of the 2000’s, Downtown Houston underwent a radical transformation as young professionals and empty-nest Baby Boomers looking to cut down on the commute moved into the central city, causing housing costs to climb dramatically. This shift created growth opportunity for businesses in Southwest Houston as residents moved there in search of lower rents and high population density. The neighborhood is an attractive choice for these current successful residents in their 30s as they start their families. The strong feel of community makes the area a great place to live and do business.

Benefits of Southwest Houston

Living in the Southwest area is easy for many reasons. Most of the Southwest area is easily accessible by major thoroughfares with wide esplanades that make travel in the area pleasant and safe. It’s a short commute to Downtown, the Medical Center, the Galleria, Greenway Plaza, and the Energy Corridor  And the Westchase District is actually located in the heart of Southwest Houston.

Accessibility near Houston

Residents of the area have their choice of freeways that bound the area including:

  • Southwest Freeway (Highway 59/69)
  • 610 Loop, Highway 90 (Main Street)
  • Beltway 8 (Sam Houston Tollway)
  • Westpark Tollway.

advantages office houston freeway

METRO (Houston’s transit authority) estimates travel times from Southwest Houston to Downtown, the Galleria and Greenway Plaza to be only 15 minutes, and to the Texas Medical Center only 20 minutes.

In conclusion, the same things that made offices in Southwest Houston appealing back in the day still make it appealing as a business address today. It has unbeatable leasing rates, with thriving corporate businesses and retail locations in the region. The infrastructure of the neighborhood and strong sense of community make employees happy to call the region their home and shorten their commute. All economic signals indicate that the region will continue to grow.

Easy Ways to Make an Impact on Earth Day

earth day impact imageHave you heard the story of 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani, who concluded that the U.S. government could save $136 million annually by simply switching the font used on its official printed documents? It all started as a science fair project to investigate ways his school district could save money and promote sustainability. He showed us how one small change can make a big impact.

Inspired by Suvir, here are a few easy, affordable ways your own office can tweak its printing practices to “go green” for Earth Day – and beyond!

Start Recycling

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average office worker generates around 2 pounds of paper and paperboard products each day. Each day! With that in mind, one of the best things you can do (if you’re not already) is recycle. Check out these tips to get started, and contact your local waste management or garbage disposal provider for programs in your area.

Reset Printer and Copier Defaults

If your office printers and copiers currently default to one-sided color printing, listen up! Unless you really need all documents printed that way, make the change to double-sided, black-and-white printing to use less paper and ink. It should be fairly easy to reset the default options, either directly on the machine itself or within each computer’s printer settings. And, if something needs to be printed in color and/or single-sided, simply change the print or copy settings for that print session only. Compare the next few months’ paper and ink expenditures to previous months to check how much money and materials this one change saves.

Give Your Contacts Something to Ponder

Many people print every email and use the stack as a daily to-do list. But really, one sheet of paper per action item seems excessive. You can help others reconsider their own printing habits by having your employees add this simple line below their email signatures: “Please consider the environment before printing.” It may make some folks think twice before printing something that can just as easily be clicked on when needed.

Commit To Go Paperless

Speaking of not printing every little thing, you could take it one step further by pledging to run a paperless office. Okay, maybe some items will still need to be printed on occasion; but a conscious effort by every employee can help your company trade overflowing file cabinets for easily accessible (and out-of-sight) digital files. Make a plan, assign an individual to oversee the project, and plan to budget both time and money to do some proverbial heavy lifting on the front end. Once that is complete and the office gets in the habit of producing and saving files digitally, it’s smooth sailing toward paperless bliss.

Have you implemented any of the above in your office? Do you have any other “green” tips for Earth Day? Share your ideas in the comments below!