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.