Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from The Hub!

...We'll be back on Monday!
Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, everyone, and may your 2011 be off to a fantastic start!

Monday, December 27, 2010

EcoMonday: Ecoresolutions!

...What's a resolution, anyway? In most cases, they're just good intentions, and they often go the way of the dodo by March.
So what's a good-intentioned person to do? And what are the most manageable tips for a good, ecologically sound start to the new year?
  • Start small. Even something like changing out just a few of your incandescent lighting sources for compact fluorescent ones can make a difference. Small resolutions can soon lead to bigger ones.
  • Set a goal for yourself. Say you want to reduce office paper waste by 20% by the tim 2012 rolls around. Make that goal public, and make sure that you post it in a place that's visible every day, so you can remind yourself.
  • Make it a team effort. Your employees want to help, too. Crowd-source some good, tangible resolutions for your office, and make sure everyone has a role to play. You'll get a lot more done working together than you will working by yourself.
  • Take it outside. Your annual office retreat can work surprisingly well to get people excited about being good stewards of the environment--we have an annual cleanup day in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, and it's a treat to be outside with our co-workers when we're used to seeing them in work togs. Trail maintenance days work as terrific team building exercises, too--the end result of seeing your hard work take shape in a trail that hundreds of people will use makes for a terrific confidence booster!
What are your EcoResolutions for 2011?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Hub Day!

Happy holidays, guys!
The Hub blog will be back on Monday with another great EcoMonday tip.

Monday, December 20, 2010

EcoMonday: Giftwrapping. What to do with it?

This is going to be a short one, because we know you have a ton of stuff to do in the next FIVE DAYS before Christmas. *Shrieks.* (Have you done all your shopping? We haven't.)
Anyway. We want to take three minutes and talk to you about gift-wrapping. Do you know that, although most plain gift-wrapping paper is recyclable just in your standard curb-side recycling bin, all that fancy pretty stuff with the foil and the glitter and the flocking isn't recyclable? And neither, regrettably, is tissue paper.
That's right, it just gets lumped in with all those unrecyclable plastic adhesive bows. Never mind, it's okay. We know you already have a ton of it purchased.
But hey, there's good news. Gift wrap is totally reusable. We're not going to suggest you make beads out of it, or whatever, like some well meaning and talented people do, but we are going to suggest that you take an iron to the stuff. Yes, you can iron your gift wrap. Takes all the creases right out.
Iron your giftwrap, reuse it next year. Who knew?

As for the plastic bows, well, those are reusable too, but harder to store.
So this holiday season, don't go at your gifts like some kind of sugar-plum-crazed four-year-old. Hang onto the stuff. You'll reuse it next year, feel good about what you're doing for the environment, and hey, save yourself a little money. (We at the Hub Twoffice haven't purchased giftwrap for something like a decade!)

What's your favorite holiday earth-saving tip?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hub Friday: Wearing your holiday cheer on your sleeve

We do have a dress code here at The Hub. Our associates wear name tags and dark trousers or skirts. Of course, it's nothing like the dress code at UBS (it encourages women to put on their perfume right after a hot shower, so as not maximize the effect, and has pretty strict notations about the color of your nail polish and the shape of men's ties), but we do ask that our staff keep their shirts tucked in.


But the holidays are funny. How do you stop the Christmas cheer from becoming too much, without seeming the Grinch? Here, drawn from real-life experiences at other workplaces, are our favorite mishaps, from head to toe.

  • Ribbons and headbands okay, reindeer antlers not. We had an experience in a past life where an associate went on a sales call in a hat with ears on it. She thought it was cute. We thought not. Put it this way: Anything that looks like it belongs on an animal does not belong on a working professional.
  • The sweater question. To applique or not? Bad-Christmas-Sweater parties are fun, but they're definitely not for the workplace. Your guideline here is whether or not anything on your sweater sticks out more than--okay, your guideline is whether or not anything on your sweater sticks out. Same for things like brooches, pins, and other jewelry. If it's flashing lights or making noises, leave it at home. A nice tasteful snowflake will do wonders. No need to hang mini tree lights from your ears.
  • Color me happy. Newsflash, people: Red and green do NOT go together. They never have. (See "anything that sticks out" cautionary note above.) Red is fine by itself, and very very cheery. Stick to it and you won't go wrong.
  • Noisemakers belong to New Year's. We had an ex-boyfriend who wore socks that played "Jingle Bells" every time he moved. They had reindeer on them and a tiny box in the cuff that was motion-sensitive. It. Was. Horrible. The relationship didn't last, and we're pretty sure his socks weren't long for the workplace, either.

What are your favorite holiday-dress snafus?

Monday, December 13, 2010

EcoMonday: Holiday Shopping

Okay. How many of you have done all your Christmas shopping? Mmhmmm, we thought so.
Never fear! We dug up some options that are lovely *and* eco-friendly, along with a few guidelines for you.

Consider consignment. We've already ranted to you about the benefits of Freecycle Philadelphia, but you don't always get what you want on the boards. However, you'll almost always find something beautiful at one of Philadephia's great consignment stores, which take gently worn items (think top-notch brands like Chanel, Prada, and Eileen Fisher), sell them to lucky consumers, and then give a portion of the sale price back to the lucky person who thought to recycle her items in the first place. Consignment stores tend to be choosy about what they take, since they have to make a buck on it, too, so you can count on good quality. You'll find everything from belts to bags and great suits at a good consignment store. All of it makes for good gifts, and in Philly, there are at least two great stores we can think of, Greene Street Consignment and Josie's Sophisticated Seconds.

If you're going to buy new, consider looking for toys and gifts made locally. Foodstuffs and other consumables, like wines and honeys, make great gifts. We found Baxter's Bee Farm, a terrific estorefront that sells not only honey but everything honey-based--and Baxter's is located in central Pennsylvania.
Soap! From bees! In Central Pennsylvania! What a lovely gift!

Toys are an obvious guess for kids, but you can go one step further. Tree Blocks, a company out of Santa Barbara, CA, makes their blocks out of discards from local paper companies. The result? Remarkably rustic-looking toys that are somehow works of art in and of themselves. They're finished with flaxseed oil and last for years. And yes, they make toy treehouses, too.

Of course, if you're one of those who's a browser and a one-stop shopper, consider a dedicated green store like Big Green Earth Store, where you'll not only have a lot to choose from, you may also learn a thing or two. On a recent trip to a similar store, we learned all about wormless composting.

While you're at it, you may want to consider a gift that truly gives. Remember when you were kids and you'd spent all your allowance money on gum, or whatever? What'd you do when you had to give a gift? You did something nice for someone else, didn't you? Scribbled on a nice piece of paper some verbiage about baby-sitting or something? Guess what? You can still do that. Consider giving someone the gift of service. Take them on a date to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Or spend a day packing boxes at your local food pantry. They'll never forget it. And they won't be forced to regift the thing.

What's the best holiday gift you've ever gotten?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hub Friday: Education is Elemental

We wrote a few months ago about our friends at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. (One of The Hub facilities is based there.)
This outstanding organization demonstrates that a potentially boring high-school subject (yours truly scraped by with a C-) can be fun and exciting, and even (gasp!) interesting. In fact, you need only look at one of their excellent competitions for high-school students going on right now to see just how much the folks at the foundation believe in their subject matter.
In the "It's Elemental!" competition, students are encouraged to mix old information with new technology: they're asked to submit videos based around an element in the periodic table. From there, their 3- to 5-minute video is judged on the obvious bits, like "presentation of scientific information" and "technical merit."

What will it take to make this interesting? The guys at the Chemical Heritage Foundation know.

But from there, the competition rapidly veers away from your run-of-the-mill science project: Students will be judged on overall artistry, and their videos will be carefully vetted to see that their chosen element is presented in a light that makes evident its historical and social significance.
At the Hub, we value education pretty highly. We think there's true social and historical potential in everything. So when we talk to new clients, we look at the potential to host their events as opportunities to educate the conference attendees that are coming in that day.
And we encourage our employees to continue to educate themselves too, on everything from social media to trends in meeting planning and events. This philosophy, we think, keeps us fresh, and it keeps us thinking in new directions when it comes to planning conferences for our clients.
Visit the Chemical Heritage Foundation's "It's Elemental!" contest here.
What's your philosophy of work?

Monday, December 6, 2010

EcoMonday: Closet Purging, and what to do with it

We've written before about our flooring and how important textiles are to the recycling industry. Textiles can be recycled again and again without much breakdown in quality, but they can sit in landfills for decades, not getting enough sunlight or moisture to break down.

Where does all this cloth go?

So what can you do? Here are a few tips as we head into the holiday season.

  • Freecycle it. Freecycle is a nationwide online network of people who are are constantly "gifting" items to each other. You send out a note describing what you have to give away and wait. (All posts are moderated, and the entire board is watched over very carefully for spammers and other unsavory sorts.) In our experience, you don't wait very long, and your stuff will go to someone who wants it. There are at least four Freecycle groups operating in Philadelphia, according to where you live.
  • Give the gift of an animal. Animal shelters often need old sheets, towels, and blankets to provide warmth to a furry friend. Consider giving your bedding and linens to an animal shelter before you put them in a landfill.
  • Dress someone for success. Dress for Success's Philadelphia branch takes new and gently worn suits to women who are just getting back onto their feet in new careers after economic hardship. The group also provides networking opportunities and career counseling.
  • Get someone to help you. Pottstown-based Recycling Services, Inc. has open community drop-off days for everything from your electronics to your curtains, so take advantage of their open house days and put your stuff in their hands for repurposing into something new.

Now go on--purge your closets, both at work and at home, and know you're doing something good.

What's your favorite way to recycle?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hub Friday: Showing Appreciation

It's over a week after Thanksgiving, but we wanted to share something that made us especially thankful.
It's just a little card that fell out of our wallet as we were rooting through our notebook after we left work last night. It looks like this:
What is it? We call it a Wow card, natch, and really, it's meant to help us recognize the staff members that make our clients' lives a little bit easier, and their experience at The Hub top-notch. Fill it out, it goes in a box, and we pay attention to every one.
Quite simply, it's the way we let people say thank you, because we realized something: getting to say Thank You feels just as good as having it said to you. Letting our clients tell us about something good that's happened in our offices is just as effective as letting them tell us if something ever goes wrong.
How do you show appreciation?

Monday, November 29, 2010

EcoMonday: A Vacation Alternative

It's not only EcoMonday this Monday, but also Cyber Monday: deals on the Internet abound today, and that goes for travel, too.
If you're looking to book a vacation for the chilly winter months or the soggy spring, we've got an option for you. Consider voluntourism. What's that awkward mashup? It's not awkward at all, actually: It's a wonderful blend of rejuvenation and soul-filling glory.
More traditional volunteer vacations, like the Sierra Club's outings, offer you one or two free days of exploring while giving back to the National Park system. All levels of skill and strength can be accomodated, and you'll probably pick up new skills while learning to build trails, paint fences, dig postholes...the list is endless. While you're at it, you'll know that you're helping to maintain some of our most stunning natural features.
On the other end of the spectrum is a group like All Hands Disaster Relief, where you can stay as long as you like, and help with as much as humanly possible. You pay for your flight to one of Hands' existing sites, and you spend all day, every day, rebuilding communities that have been affected by disaster. (Full disclosure: Hands worked with us via ShelterBox, and we think they are the absolute bomb when it comes to disaster-relief work.) You can be on a rubble team, a children team, a hospital runner team, a shelter team...the possibilities are endless.

Somewhere in the middle is a group like Road Monkey. Founded by former New York Times reporter Paul von Zielbauer and profiled recently in no less than O magazine, Road Monkey pairs a week of adventure travel with a week of good work. A recent trip had Road Monkeys bicycling through Vietnam and then working to build a playground with the not-for-profit Catalyst Foundation, which deals with anti-trafficking and educational initiatives for children.

So go on, make this CyberMonday really count.

Friday, November 19, 2010

EcoMonday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Really? On the holiday that's all about consuming, we want you to think about being eco-friendly? Guess what? Planning a greener Thanksgiving event is easier than you think. Try these tips:

Invite more people over. You almost always have leftovers, don't you? And some of those get tossed in the rubbish bin pretty quickly. So try and plan for more people, so that you get fewer leftovers. Fewer leftovers means less waste. That's pretty green.

Try to buy locally. There are few things more pleasurable than finding out about a great apple orchard nearby, taking a stroll there, and picking your own apples. Take the idea and expand it to all your food: Wouldn't it be nice to know where your pumpkins, yams, collard greens, and turkey came from? Buying local means you have less travel for the food, and that means fewer carbon emissions. This year, we'll get our coffee from La Colombe and our wine from the Brandywine territories.

We like to show off our local treasures, like Brandywine Valley wines. Thanksgiving is the right time to do it.

Go for a walk. A nice stroll with friends and family means one more half-hour that the TV is off, and it's fabulous for your digestion, too. Hey, we love the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving too, but we think we might forego it just once this year for some good brisk air and some stellar conversation.
Go on, go for a walk. Charlie Brown won't mind.

Shop Black Friday sparingly. A good deal is hard to turn down, but while you're riding the glow of all that family and friendship, really think about what you're buying for people you care about. Choose things you think they'll really use, and we think you'll end up with a sparser shopping list, less time spent in lines, and more time to gorge yourself on the leftovers we know you'll inevitably end up with, anyway. Who wants some turkey sandwiches?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hub Day: Where and Why: The Chemical Heritage Foundation

In this series, we'll explore why and how we came about our individual sites. This week we'll explore the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

We have a secret: We almost failed high school chemistry. Our teacher, one Ms. Payton, was so popular that she intimidated us. And she tried so, so hard to make chemistry fascinating. But alas, she had to count us as one of her failures.

You know what? If we'd known about the Chemical Heritage Foundation back then, things would have been mighty different.
Just look at the place! Two-story video display! Funky-cool instruments! People, standing around, looking interested! This is nothing like Chem101 at 2:10 PM, when we're in our lunchtime slump....

But we digress. The Chemical Heritage Foundation is one of our favorite places. Aside from the fact that we've chosen it as a Hub location, it is the only space we know of with spatial provenance suiting its heritage and mission. Consider: Physician Benjamin Rush, who was America's first-ever chemistry prof, lived right down the street. And Ben Franklin lived within earshot.

Imagine living between this guy...

and this guy!

And then, there's also the fact that the Chemical Heritage Foundation tries is utmost to make chemistry accessible to everyone. They host art exhibits based around chemistry, and they never balk at some of the darker things that chemistry might encompass, like the creation of the atomic bomb and poisonous gas.

CHF is also a sponsor of Science on Tap Philadelphia, a monthly gathering that puts a short lecture or presentation on science in a bar--we know for a fact that the ensuing discussion is always lively. (Seriously, did you ever think geek could be so chic?)

Their weekly Brown Bag Lectures are good food for thought, too.

But we'll be honest and say that, although we may not want to pursue chemistry as a profession any more than we did in high school, the CHF has made it ever so much more interesting. They did it because they understand that chemistry is not just about reactions and things going bang; it's about the people behind it, and what drove them to discover what they did. They get how important it is to carry that view into the future, and anyway, CHF is the only learning institution we know of to make nanotechnology make sense.

Follow the Chemical Heritage Foundation @chemheritage on Twitter. Next week, why and how we chose CHF to be a partner.

Monday, September 27, 2010

EcoMonday: Electronics Recycling

Oh, woe is us: So many electronics, so little recycling.

Let's just address briefly why on earth you'd even try to properly recycle your computers or old electronics.
1. Space: There's no room in your office for that enormous cathode-ray-tube monitor. Plus, that industrial beige doesn't go with your new office decor. Ugh.
2. Data: What if you need to retrieve a file from 1998? It's easier if you don't have to dig out the enormous hard drive in the back of the office storeroom. Also better if you know sensitive data's been properly destroyed.
3. It's the earth, stupid: Hello! Computer chips and components are often made with heavy metals that can be harmful to the earth if just left in a landfill.
4. Your trash is someone else's treasure: So many people can use your discarded electronics, you early adapter, you, so that your sleek MacBook Air (*so* 2008) is someone else's great find. Or, on a more serious note, donating your cell phone can help save someone's life.

So how do you go about recycling your electronics?

First, make sure all your data is wiped. ERevival will send a team to pick up all of your old electronics--everything from VCRs to plasma screens--and reliably destroy all of your data. Their Web site, as well, is a goldmine of great information about recycling your electronic waste.

Second, find a reliable recycler. If you have a smaller amount of ewaste that won't qualify for a large-scale pickup, you can take your old computers, printers, or cell phones down to Goodwill, who will take them off your hands for recycling or resale. (Although the Reconnect program is sponsored by Dell and Microsoft, you can drop off any brand of equipment.)
There are a lot of charities that will gladly take your mobile phone off your hands. At any Verizon retailer, you can drop off your old phone as you're picking up your new one, and your old phone will go to support Hopeline, which provides potential victims of domestic abuse with mobile phones so they have an independent safer phone line to use.

But Hopeline's not the only choice. Here's a great listing of other charities and companies who put your used mobile phones to good use, with almost no effort on your part. And here's a good list of resources in Philadelphia that will help you to recycle efficiently.

There are a lot of good reasons to recycle. And a lot of good ways to do it.

What are your favorite e-waste recycling tips?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hub Day: The Baldwin Room

Our Cira Centre location is adjacent to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. You get to it by strolling up a ramp and taking a small escalator.

It's a gorgeous space, all light and glass and with a clear view of the trainyards, so we knew we needed to pay homage to one of the men who built modern locomotion as we know it today: Matthias Baldwin.
Now, Baldwin may look like your run-of-the-mill 19th-century bloke, but he was anything but. In fact, although his name is now synonymous with steam engines, he got his start as a jeweler and a silversmith, and it was only because of his partnership with a machinist that he became interested in building stationary engines (engines that don't move, but which power objects--we think of them as modern-day generators).
A stationary engine like this one would help Baldwin in his later endeavors to produce steam locomotives.

Eventually, he built a miniature locomotive, just for kicks, and it that year that the Philadelphia Museum commissioned him to build a working 4-passenger train for exhibition. Baldwin was asked that same year by the Camden and Amboy Railroad to build a short-line locomotive.

His locomotive, assembled entirely by hand (most modern machinery and tools didn't exist in the early 1800s), was called "Old Ironsides."
Baldwin's fate was sealed. He went on to found the Baldwin Locomotive Company, which would assemble over 1500 locomotive engines before his death in 1866.

Although we think the fact that Baldwin's lifework with trains is a great reason for us to name one of our rooms after him, probably the thing we like most about him is the fact that he was an inveterate philanthropist. (He was a founder of the Franklin Institute for the Betterment of Labour, demonstrating a remarkably early concern for the welfare of workers.) And his charitable donations and insistence on racial equality were a key reason for a major boycott of Baldwin engines in the south as the Civil War became a reality.

For all of these reasons, we're proud that this room, a cornerstone of our Cira Centre location, bears Matthias Baldwin's name.
You can see this statue of Matthias Baldwin in front of Philadelphia's City Hall, and you can learn more about Matthias Baldwin here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eco-Monday: Glass vs. Plastic

We wote last week about the fact that it's in our environmental edict to stop buying plastic bottles. That's right, we buy only glass bottles, and in general, we avoid bottled water altogether, opting instead for glass bottles.
You might be wondering whether it's worth all that effort.
First, the rules.
  • Our customers can request bottled water, but we don't offer it.
  • We buy only glass bottles
  • We buy only water in glass bottles that originates within 150-mile radius of Philadelphia
And now, the reasons we do all that.

Plastic is made of fossil fuel
Glass is endlessly recyclable--it's just heated sand, after all
Recycled glass has a 30-day turnaround time before it's back on the shelf again as new glass
Most glass is 70 percent post-consumer

There is one salient point we need to address: There is an argument out there that says that because glass is heavier than plastic, the environmental-cost savings you reap by not buying made of fossil fuels is negated by the extra fossil fuels you burn by shipping it. That's why our policy comes with a localization clause.

Remember, buy local and recycle your glass. It's not a bad policy to live by.

We got some great recycling information about glass from Did you know that recycled glass is used in reflective paint and can even be used to replace sand on beaches lost to erosion? Crikey!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hub Day: The Core Values

From time to time, we like to examine some of the things that make us tick. As a company, we mean. And yet, as we explore this idea and look for succinct ways to approach them and express them, it becomes obvious over and over again that it's not the way we operate as a company; it's the way the employees make up this company, expressly by the way they view it--and themselves.
That's really just a wordy way of saying that your employees make up your company, isn't it?
And yet, we think it especially true as look at the way our clients interact with The Hub. They come back again and again because of the service they get.
One of our core values is: Take Action. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Our president, Bill Decker, likes to illustrate this core value by telling the story of Tom Henderson, founder of ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity. The story goes like this:
Tom was sitting in front of his television one night, a decade ago, when he spotted a news segment on some disaster relief efforts going on halfway around the world. He watched as the news crew showed footage of disaster relief crews standing on a truck as it drove slowly down the street. From the bed of the truck, the workers threw loaves of bread down to clamoring masses. Much of the bread fell on the ground. Now, people who had lost everything in the disaster had to further debase themselves by fighting for dirty loaves of bread. If they were lucky enough to get one, they went home, dusted off the bread, fed it to their families.
Tom thought, "I can do better." And then he did. He went to his garage and drew up the plans for a disaster-relief box. Ten years later, that box is still alive and in action all over the world.
On a more local scale, our girl Dana noticed a gum wrapper on the floor near our elevator banks. She didn't stop and stare and it; she just bent down and picked it up.
That's taking action, too.
Insofar as making sure our clients take advantage of our proactive personalities at the Hub, we just apply the in action theory to everything we do. We anticipate what our clients need or want. When a problems pops up, as they inevitably do, we try not to waste time being angry or frustrated. We just move on to the next step. Solve the problem.
We think reminding our employees to stay in action has another benefit, too: it keeps everyone here in the office moving forward.
What core values does your company employ? Find out more about Tom Henderson and ShelterBox here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Eco-Monday: Don't Bottle It Up

We're not talking about emotions here--we're talking about water.

That's right--the Hub doesn't buy plastic bottles. So what do we do when our clients request bottled water? Well, we purchase it from a source within 150 miles and make sure that we purchase glass bottles only. We'll address the glass vs. plastic question later, but first,

what do we do when we're thirsting for a tall, cool glass of water? Simple: We turn on the tap.

We adore tap water. It's an economically sound solution, it's readily available--and would you be surprised to learn that in a recent taste test for tap water (yes, these things really do exist!), Philadephia's tap water was rated in the top ten in 2007, at the annual conference of U.S. Mayors. (St. Louis was #1, but who's counting?)

And yes, it's safe. We found this terrific diagram from, an advocacy organization, that details the various steps each municipality puts its water through before letting citizens have access to it.

Our favorite thing about tap water? It can be readily flavored. The Hub's resident mixologist came up with this recipe to give your tap water a little zing:

1/2 gallon tap water
1 tray ice cubes
1/2 cup ginger simple syrup
12 seedless-cucumber slices
Put all ingredients in pitcher, stir and serve. Zing!

So go on, belly up to the tap. It does a body--and a corporation--good.

Tell us about your favorite ways to flavor tap water, or tell us what you think of this article, in the comments below.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hub Day: The Rittenhouse Room

This week, we pay homage to a room that shall be no more (at least, not in its current configuration), the Rittenhouse Room, at our CityView Center.

Here it is, in its normal glory. But never mind the room--what's it named for?
Good question. The answer is two-fold. The room is so named because it overlooks Rittenhouse Square, an historical park that was one of five planned in Philadelphia by William Penn in the late 1600s. And although it's now named Rittenhouse, it was originally named Southwest Square. But then one David Rittenhouse came to light as a Philadelphia luminary, and he was so much a part of Philadelphia history that the park was renamed Rittenhouse Square in 1825.

It's in his spirit, as well as the view this room affords, that we've called it the Rittenhouse. Because David Rittenhouse wasn't an ordinary man. (Really, who goes about naming parks after ordinary men?) Rittenhouse, whose roots go way back in Philadelphia (he's a descendant of Philadelphia's first papermaker), was an astronomer, a friend of the American Revolution, and a member of the American Philosophical Society.

But Rittenhouse wasn't just these things. He was the first director of the United States Mint. He was a surveyor for Great Britain, and he loved mathematics. He was a good handyman, and he knew his way around the gears and cogs of clocks. He even served in the Philadelphia government at one time.
The Rittenhouse room, with its wide, sweeping views, has the same spirit about it. When you're working in there, we want you to be able to think widely, with as few obstructions as possible.
With the new changes, you'll see an even more expanded view--the new doors of the new Rittenhouse, which will be constructed to work like garage doors, will allow events and meetings to expand into the lobby of the The Hub City Center.
We think a man like David Rittenhouse, with all of his different posts in life, would understand change and progress.
The new Rittenhouse Room in progress: bigger, better.

Read more about David Rittenhouse here at Wikipedia. You can also visit the U.S. Mint's Web site for more information.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hub Day: Change Will Do You Good

So. We're in a bit of upheaval here at The Hub CityView. Things are all topsy-turvy.

This is our Rittenhouse room. We're tearing down the wall so we give it the option of being bigger, when it wants to. According to our operations director, Peter Chun, it's going to have a "garage-door"-like opening to it, so that if your needs dictate a larger space, well, we have the capability to make it bigger for you.
Don't get us wrong. We did love the Rittenhouse. But the reality is, in our house, our clients are of utmost importance, and we want to make sure that we serve their needs first and foremost.
"If you look at our Cira Center office," says Peter, referring to our LEED-certified location, and the one we built from scratch, "we're capable of hosting two to three hundred people in one of the rooms there. We wanted to be able to have all of our facilities be similar to each other, and this was a good place to start."
So what's going to change? Well, our cafe (pictured below) is now up against our big picture window, so you can get a little sun with your coffee and tea.
And our lobby, below, has changed quite a bit.
Okay, we admit it. We like the idea of making sure that our clients have the flexibility they need to make our meeting spaces fit their needs. And it makes us really happy that we can have a beautiful view of Philadelphia while we're sipping our coffee. But you know what's been really interesting about this whole procedure?
It's the fact that the changes are keeping us on our toes. There are a ton of studies out there that demonstrate the fact that physical change in the office keeps employees productive. Physical therapists have long advocated simple things, like wearing your watch on your *other* wrist every once in awhile, just to keep yourself guessing.
So yeah, we like the changes. Just, maybe not for the most obvious reasons.
What are your favorite tips for keeping yourself sharp? We like Freestyle Mind's 30 tips, for starters.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eco-Monday: Green Up Your Daily Habit

The simple act of drinking your daily cup of coffee or tea can remind us of the many daily steps we can take to green up our lives. Choose organic tea over conventionally grown crops, for instance. Or bring your own reusable mug to your favorite café for that de riguer cup on the way to the office.

There are even more ways to better your caffeine habit? You could, for instance, choose shade-grown, organic, Fair Trade, or Rainforest Alliance coffee, says Julie Craves, founder of, a comprehensive website on all things conservation and coffee. Some of the same options exist for tea. This quick primer will help you get a head start on your road to sustainable imbibing.

Shade-grown coffee: Coffee is grown on a large scale in clear-cut, sunny fields, but a clear-cut forest means far less habitat for birds that make rainforest canopies their home. Both the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Research Center and the Rainforest Alliance have put together a certification process that allows you to choose coffee grown in conditions that do better by the environment. You can take a look at the Smithsonian’s certification process here, and get a better look at the nuances of shade-grown coffee here.

Socially responsible coffee and tea: Choose Fair Trade. This model, which also ensures a fair price for farmers it partners with, is an international agreement that currently covers 20 existing Fair Trade marks. For more information about Fair Trade labels, check with the Fairtrade Labeling Organization. Or go local. We love our La Colombe coffee here at The Hub.

The Rainforest Alliance: Arguably one of the oldest organizations to step into monitoring the coffee and tea industries, RA also has one of its successes: they’ve paired with Unilever, makers of Lipton Tea, to certify all of its tea plantations worldwide by 2015. RA also certifies coffee—its label on a pound of your favorite brew covers both environmental and working considerations. You can learn more about RA’s certification process here.

To buy sustainable coffee and tea, look for any of the labels mentioned above. You can also look for tea and coffee at your local grocery store from Equal Exchange, a nationwide distributor that works with only organic farms on a fair-trade basis.

*Portions of this article were originally printed in A Fresh Squeeze. (c) Yi Shun Lai, 2007.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hub Day: Continuing Education Continues to Make You Smarter

We're serious fans of continuing education, whether it be degree-based or just because you want to be the best you can possibly be.
Towards that end, we're working with Penn State Great Valley to make it easy for working professionals to forward their careers with certification or continuing education in several different fields.
Our kickoff event, in June, was just the beginning of a great relationship that will bring great classes in project management, business writing, and presentation skills to busy professionals. All classes will be held at The Hub's Cira Centre location.

Stephanie Koch, The Hub's business development manager, says that a continuing education system is first on the list of our goals for the coming years. She notes that over 60,000 come through the Hub's doors every year. "These people might all be able to gain from continuing education. The idea is to create a Hub educational experience," she says.
That kind of vision is something we know we share with every higher education institution. Why not experience your higher education in style?
For more information on the Penn State Greater Valley continuing education classes, click here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hub Day: Superfoods!

...What's that, you say? What is that peculiar sound? It's you, falling asleep on your desk just before your two o'clock meeting.
We know. It happens to us a lot. We used to fix the problem with a steadily percolating pot of coffee.
But then we figured that standing around jittery all the time was probably just as bad as falling asleep in meetings, so we went for another option, one that we think visitors to The Hub like just as much as we do: Our Superfood Shelf.

(Norma Jean, one of our key salespeople, tests out our most recent addition)

What *is* that, you want to know? We like to think of it as a little afternoon rejuvenation, a little pep up for your taste buds, and a better way for you to maintain good energy through the day. We stock our Superfood Shelf with all kinds of goodies: dried nuts and fruit, dark chocolate, and some other goodies, like yogurt-covered berries, that make sure we're happy and energized for the afternoon slump.
What's on your Superfood Shelf? We think every office should have one, but then again, we're biased.
Web MD's terrific list of Superfoods is here: Go on, stock up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

EcoMonday: Wind Energy

The other day we told some friends of ours that The Hub's policy is to buy wind energy credits to offset our traditional energy usage.

There was an awkward joke about paying for hot air, and then we had to sit down and tell them exactly what wind energy credits are, and how we use them.

First, how does wind energy work? Most electricity is generated by turbines, which are powered by steam, which is created by burning fossil fuels, or nuclear energy. Wind energy eliminates the fossil fuel or nuclear part of that equation, substituting wind for fossil fuel or nuclear energy.

Second, how is the wind turned into energy? There are several wind farms around the world, which allows the production not only of electricity, which can be purchased outright by municipalities neighboring the wind farm.

Third, what does it mean that we purchase wind energy credits? The energy produced at the wind farm can also be purchased in the form of Renewable Energy Credits, or RECs. Each REC accounts for 1000 Kwh worth of energy. Essentially, The Hub offsets all of the electricity that we do use by putting our earnings and monies behind wind energy.

It's true. We are paying for a bunch of hot air. But in this case, it's a good thing.

(Other methods of clean energy include solar energy and wave energy.)

For measure, an average American residential customer consumes about 800 Kwh per month.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hub Day: A Light Bulb Goes Off Over Our Heads

Every once in awhile, we like to let you into our house. Today, we welcome you to the Edison Room, named for Thomas Edison, natch.
Bright colors! Nuts and bolts! Directional signs! (Some pointing in conflicting directions, but that's okay!) What does it all mean? And why did we go this route?
The answer is Edison himself. Nearly all of his inventions had to do with communication: The carbon microphone he invented was in use in telephones until the mid-1980s, and his phonograph put him on the map. His Kinetoscope allowed people to watch short films, and although he didn't invent the telegraph, his vast improvements to it made for far better communication, and allegedly netted Edison himself a $10,000 advance from Western Union. Edison is so ingrained in the public consciousness that everyone thinks he invented the lightbulb, when really, he just made vast improvements to it.

And the whole electricity thing? Well, Edison's invention, Direct Current, or DC, is much less efficient than Nikola Tesla's Alternating Current (AC), but that didn't stop Edison from waging full-out war on AC, painting its higher voltage capacity as a surefire method of accidents and death.
So why name a room after such a polarizing figure? We know that Edison's a risky choice, and we think that's the reason we chose him. Let's break it down:
  • Communications: As a young telegraph operator, Edison knew the value of human communications, and leveraged that.
  • Competition: Although Edison may not have always played fair, he kept well abreast of his competitors and businessfolk who might well be in need of his inventions. He and Henry Ford were friends to the end.
  • Sheer grit: Edison was rumored to have said that an experiment that failed 10,000 times it did not discourage him, because it brought him closer to a solution.
  • Controversy: You can't please everyone. Edison knew that.
  • Improvements as inventions: Edison didn't invent the lightbulb, but he made it so much better: as it was, the existing bulb may have petered out of existence if not for Edison's work.
We love our Edison room: It's colorful and efficient, and we like its urban aesthetics, a nod to the time and effort Edison put into modernizing some of the nation's most important cities. But we also love it for its contrast: opposite of the color and exposed piping in our Edison room, you'll also find a soothing view of Philadelphia, from high above the city.
Who are your role models? Tell us in the comments below.

Monday, August 9, 2010

EcoMonday: Water, water...nowhere?

We just heard a nasty report from the Natural Resources Defense Council that says that more than a third of all counties in the U.S. face higher risks of water shortage by the year 2050.
Well, that's really not good. But the good news is, 2050 is a little way away. And we can all do a little something to conserve.
At every Hub facility, we've installed water-conserving plumbing that allows us to save almost 100,000 gallons a year of water that would otherwise go down the drain.
We use things like variable-flush toilets that allow us to choose whether we want a big flush or a little flush.

The lowly toilet can be a noble ally when you're looking to save water.

Not all of us can re-install the plumbing in our homes to be more efficient, or even get all new toilets. You can be better about your water usage at home and in smaller offices by placing a brick or a gallon jug filled with water into the tank of your toilet: That will change the amount of water normally needed to flush the toilet, and your tank will be more efficient.

You can also get a low-flow showerhead. Traditional showerheads will fill a gallon container of water in about 10 seconds. You want a showerhead that delivers good pressure at the rate of 2.4 gallons per minute (it'll take about 25 seconds to fill a gallon container). With a good showerhead, you won't notice the difference.

In other areas of your home, you can make simple adjustments like not running the tap while you do the dishes, or decreasing your use of the in-sink erator. Outside in the garden, you can use rainwater to water your plants, and set out a container for collecting water that you can use to water your plants later.
What are your favorite tips for conserving water at home or in the office?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hub Day: The Power of Play

At The Hub, we love to play. Or maybe that should be, Wii love to play.
Okay, rotten puns aside, we just got a Wii installed in our Cira Centre location, and boy, are we thrilled.
It seems our clients, are too. Although The Hub is already a pretty friendly place to be, we knew that there's more to great ambiance than just cool music (we favor classic rock) and comfy chairs. There's a real sense of joy to our offices, and since we're all for creative solutions, well, we bought a Wii. And now, instead of just classic rock, you might hear the melodic bip-boop! of a Wii tennis ball being lobbed across the net, or the rattle of a bowling ball as it gutters.
What's the point? We bought it because we're firm believers in the value of play. Peter Chun, our director of operations, calls it our coffee replacement, and likens it to taking a quick walk during lunchtime, or any other time you might feel slow and slumped. It's true--a little brisk activity definitely gets the blood moving, and that's always a good thing.
We'd rather be playing WiiSports at The Hub.

The National Institute of Play has another take on it. On its web site, researchers cite a study in which enrichment (or play) greatly stimulated the area of the brain that serves the highest cognitive function. More obviously stated, it just means that the brain that gets the most play also performs the best, comes up with the most creative solutions, and gets the most exercise.
Other studies have looked at the fact that productivity and play are inextricably linked. They talk about how rough-and-tumble play helps develop a sense of fair play, and how physical play and movement help you to really know yourself and how you'll react to specific circumstances.
Finally, we know for a fact that a little playtime can defuse even the worst situations.
We're not claiming that our Wii will solve everyone's work problems, but we have noticed our clients walking out of their meetings looking crestfallen and tired, going two sets with the Wii, and looking as if they feel much better for it.
Pretty good results. We think we'll keep the Wii.
This article lists ten good reasons that we're going to keep our latest office tool. Go forth and read, and then come on over and play with our Wii.

Monday, August 2, 2010

EcoMonday: Lights, conservation, action!

We had a bright idea back when we first started. Let's dispense with the standard lightbulbs.

We did, too. We use energy-efficient CFL, or compact fluorescent lights at our Hub locations.

We do it for a couple of reasons.
  • CFLs use 30-60 percent of energy when compared to standard incandescent lights
  • The smaller amount of energy used means less heat output
  • The longer lifetime of these bulbs (8 to 15 times that of incandescent bulbs) means we'll be using fewer lightbulbs
  • Cost savings over the lifetime of a CFL bulb as compared to incandescent bulbs is significant. (The EPA estimates that an Energy Star bulb will pay for itself within about six months.)
So yeah, for all these reasons, we made the switch. But then we realized we could take it a step further. So we began to look at light in a more holistic fashion. Specifically, we built our facilities to make the best use possible of natural lighting. And then we took into account the way that natural light works: Too much of it during the summer, and conference and meeting rooms get hot, and your employees get sweaty--not good for productivity. Too little of it, and people get gloomy.
So in each of our meeting rooms, we have translucent shades that we lower or raise, to keep the temperature moderated and our clients and staff happy.
We also make sure to keep all of our light fixtures and lamps clean, so that each lamp and light works to its best.
Finally, each room has individually controlled lights. When we know a room is going to be out of use for more than 15 minutes, we turn off the lights. It's written into our policy to do so.
And all of our lights are dimmable, so that we can adjust according to how much natural light is needed--or is already coming into the room.
Every single one of these steps has contributed to a healthy office. What's the one thing you'd change about your office to make it a better place to work?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hub Day: Social Media and The Hub

We think we're a pretty social office. Heck, we like each other: We go to Center City Sips together; we celebrate our successes and our mis-steps together; we play and we work hard together.
But the social media thing was a whole new quandary. We thought to ourselves, Gosh. We're already social. Do we really need to embark on social media?

Our office social committee is all of us, and we have better ideas than this.
(Webcomic via Shane Johnson.)

And then someone told us that being involved in social media was like having 500 sales calls all at once, and that made us think about it again.

See, here's the thing. For us, it's not the idea of boosting sales that got us into this social media game in the first place. And it's not the idea of having the most friends, or whatever, on Facebook. Honestly, it had mostly to do with the fact that we wanted really good, meaningful interactions with everyone who could potentially mean something to us.

We wanted an exchange of ideas. We wanted them to know what we knew, and we wanted to learn what they know about their businesses. There are meeting planning groups all over the nation. We were dying to find out how they plan meetings in Australia. We wanted to know if they were as serious about green in British meetings as we are at The Hub. We wanted to know how Japanese meeting planners think, and what people learned at MPI conferences that are too far away for us to get to.

We want to share our clients' successes. You don't always get to yell about the cool things your clients are doing. Social media--and we mean everything from the web 1.0-world of blogs and egroups to the current world of Gowalla and 4sq--lets your clients, past, current, and potential, know that you are proud of having them on your list.

We wanted our voice to be heard. Social media isn't the company newsletter, that carefully planned and worded medium of yesteryear. Social media gives your company a voice, an identity beyond its stock symbol and logo. We happen to think our employees are fun and frisky, so our voice is a little uppity. Sometimes weird things happen on our Twitter feed, but that's directly because sometimes weird things happen in our office. That's OK. It's real life at The Hub offices.

We want to have lots of conversations, with lots of people. That's it, really. Social media lets us do that. Why are you using social media in your business interactions?

Don't forget to come on over to our page and fan us on Facebook. We know, we said we didn't care how many friends we had, but it's nice to be liked.

Monday, July 26, 2010

EcoMonday: EnergyStar, demystified

You hear it bandied about all the time: "Get an Energy Star appliance, it'll help." But what does that mean? Is it just a case of green-washing, another gimmick for companies to push more goods under the guise of environmentalism?

Is this an Energy Star Appliance? If so, what does that mean? Read on to find out more.

Well, Energy Star really does exist. It's backed by the U.S. Government and by the EPA, and serves as an international standard for energy-efficient appliances. It was created in 1992, under the Clinton administration, and originally was meant to just cover computers. Since then, though, it's been expanded (we're now in Energy Star version 5.0 for computers, by the way), and now the guidelines comprise everything from refrigerators to windows and doors, which can contribute to energy loss by not sealing efficiently, or letting in too much heat or cold.
Really quickly, here's some information about what that means for your office:
  • Energy Star retrofitted and built-to-specification vending machines can save 50% more energy than models that haven't been built to Energy Star standards.
  • Energy Star water coolers can save up to 45% more energy than standard units.
  • Energy Star computers use between 30 and 60% less energy than non-Energy Star units.

You can also apply to be an Energy Star office (The Hub is LEED Silver certified, which we believe encompasses a larger set of standards, but Energy Star is a great place to start. Energy Star building information can be found here.)

At The Hub, everything from our servers to our dishwasher has the Energy Star stamp of approval on it. We don't purchase appliances that don't carry some kind of efficiency standard. And, because of the recent March controversy over Energy Star, during which 10 of 15 bogus items were passed through Energy Star standards, we try to do a little back-checking, using the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy web site as a backstop.

Heck, a little research never hurt anyone, and we'll do it in the name of fiscal and environmental responsibility.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hub Day: Meet Bill

On a recent day, Bill Decker, The Hub's President, was not in one of our facilities, but near them, taking some time to watch the World Cup with one of our staff in a local cafe. It can't be said that the man isn't diligent: As one of The Hub's founders, Bill has watched over the growth of The Hub from one facility to three in barely as many years, and is instrumental in keeping our staff happy.
Bill looks content. Read on to find out what's behind the Mona-Lisa smile.

Yes, that's right. Decker's title might as well be Chief Satisfaction Coordinator, and his insistence on watching the world's premiere sporting event is a key indicator of the way he runs the office: He runs it by paying close attention to his staff, all the better to figure out What Drives People.

One of the many things that interest our President is stewardship of the environment. Last year he engineered a cleanup of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.

So what drives Bill Decker? Bill has a propensity for surfing. He loves community service and was elected to president of his Rotary Club for this year, only to pass the mantle onto someone else after he was elected to chairman of the board of directors for the international disaster-relief group ShelterBox. He's also an in-field volunteer for the same group.
What does it all mean? Just that Bill is a man of many different interests. (He minored in Russian during his undergraduate years and, worked in pharmaceuticals and energy while he was in business school.)
It also means that Bill wouldn't expect his employees to be one-dimensional people, either. From sales staff to operations staff to the environmental edict of The Hub, he's well aware that a well-rounded perspective is the best one to have.
All of which makes it not only okay to watch the World Cup in the middle of the day so long as you're on track with your work, because when the president asks you what you're going to do after work, or with your weekends, the answer had better be something interesting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

EcoMonday: Flor-ing it to a greener workspace

We've already told you a little bit about some of the steps that we take to make our workspace more sustainable. Turns out, one of the biggest answers is right under our feet.

Pop quiz: Which one of the items in the this photo contributes most to our sense of CSR? It's not what you think.

We use Flor carpeting in our facilities, and we'd like to tell you why: We do it because Flor not only looks great, it's also part of one of the most forward-thinking sustainability movements around. While some major corporations are just now getting behind corporate social responsibility, Flor's parent company, Interface Global, has been doing it for over a decade now, starting with CEO Ray Anderson's (pictured below) 1994 promise to take nothing from the planet that can't be replaced by the planet.

Photo via Interface

That sounds pretty lofty, and the goal that Anderson has set for Interface matches that expectations: Anderson wants Interface to be a zero-impact company by the year 2020. (In March of this year, the company launched a year-long metrics measuring program, so it could better gauge how it's doing in its quest. You can read those results here.)

Okay. Now you know a little bit more about Interface, and why we chose Flor. But realistically, what does that mean for a sustainable office? It all breaks down to the steps that Flor's taken.
  • Work with the best: Flor only works with sources that share its vision of sustainability. To that end, it also is constantly on the lookout for new materials that will break down, or recycle into new carpet tiles.
  • Reduce, reuse, renew: Flor's manufacturing system is tight. There's very little waste. All Flor tiles can be returned to Flor for breakdown into new carpet tiles. Its modular system (you buy batches of Flor tiles to make up a wall-to-wall carpet, or a rug) means that if you spill something on a tile, you just replace that one section of the carpet or rug.
  • Closed-loop sustainability: From beginning to end, the entire Interface company works to reduce its impact. Everything is as locally sourced as possible, and employees even participate in sponsoring the planting of nearly 100,000 trees in order to offset the carbon footprint of things like air travel and commuting.
We like what we see at Flor, and we think it's a pretty good model to use. In the end, what it says to us is that the most quotidian of things can be sustainable, and that sustainability can be a great business model.

Interface's project is called Mission to Zero, and you can take a look around at its drive to get consumers to participate here. For more on sourcing low-VOC carpet, you can visit the Carpet and Rug Institute here.