OT speaks to Gabriela Hersham, founder of London’s green coworking space huckletree, to learn more about their plans for a mini revolution.
Coworking is an exciting, explosive market that’s spinning off in myriad directions. We’ve seen coworking spaces built around climbing walls, a ski-friendly workspace in Whistler, upmarket spaces designed to catch corporates and even cafe-based social experiments.
There are no end of ways in which the coworking market can evolve. In our age of organics, climate concerns and car-sharing, perhaps the most significant route that has so far been largely overlooked is that of sustainability.
Across the wider commercial property sector, greening the office is nothing new. Most business centres and coworking spaces have their fair share of recycling bins and bicycle racks. Some have made a permanent commitment to lower their carbon footprint. But few have been built from the ground up to actively minimise the environmental impact of the building’s life cycle.
UK’s first sustainable coworking space
Now, one operator is claiming a UK first with a new sustainable coworking space in London.
huckletree is an environmentally-friendly collaborative workspace in Clerkenwell that’s set to launch later this month. It has all the classic perks including shared space, fast Wi-Fi and like-minded company. But what sets it apart is its sustainable commitment.
“Everything that goes into the space is as environmentally-friendly as possible,” Gabriela Hersham, founder of huckletree explained to OT.
“We’re conforming to a recognised sustainability rating which means we’re working to a stringent list of criteria. There are over 100 different elements and we have to tick off every single one. All materials are reclaimed or sustainably produced, waste is removed by recognised recycling companies, even the paint on the walls is carefully selected and must be free of VOCs [volatile organic compounds].”
As a result, the process of setting up a new coworking space is somewhat more complicated. “Everything’s going to plan, but there’s a lot more work involved!”
At this stage, construction and planning costs are also far more expensive.
Coworking is a young market that’s enjoying explosive growth, but it’s not immune to difficulties. As we reported recently, an estimated 1 in 9 coworking spaces fail and many more experience severe financial problems. Are the stakes too high?
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While every new business carries an element of risk, huckletree has the advantage of strong foundations. Gabriela has financial support from a number of sources including partnerships, investment and private equity – with no bank loans or debts – and is already attracting interest from potential investors. She has been approached by foreign investors offering franchise opportunities. In addition, the costs are off-set by reduced ‘green’ taxes and the natural cost savings that come with a more energy efficient building.
The space already has a number of members spanning the technology, PR and digital markets, and interest continues to grow. Interestingly, however, the sustainability aspect is not their biggest selling point.
“To our clients it’s a nice-to-have rather than a necessity, but I believe this will change with time,” said Gabriela. “Sustainability is important to me. More and more people and businesses are committing to environmentally friendly policies and doing their bit. They have to. If they’re not thinking green, they’re already outdated.”
Demand for huckletree lies in its classic coworking appeal: an inspirational environment and a sense of community with like-minded entrepreneurs. To kick-start the new environment, Gabriela has targeted a number of founding members that will bring flair and innovation to the space. Among them, Mirakl is a French technology startup that has dedicated several years to developing an Amazon-style marketplace product and already has the backing of several high-profile companies in France.
“We have the advantage of an easy sell. People want to be around these sort of businesses. Our current members are exciting, disruptive, ambitious companies. We are open to anyone – freelancers, startups, corporates. They will all bring their own quirky characters and add to our community.
“huckletree is a UK first,” Gabriela added. “Eventually, sustainable coworking spaces won’t just be a nice extra. I believe we’re starting a mini revolution.”
The impending launch of huckletree comes with all the buzz of a new coworking space and exciting young startups that could shake up the world of business in years to come. In line with the disruptive businesses that will call it home, huckletree brings its own long-term vision in the form of a sustainable commitment that demonstrates its ambition for lasting change.
Watch this space, it could be the start of something big. Keep up to date with the latest news at www.huckletree.com.Share this article