Posts Tagged ‘according’

Spaces to Roam

Čtvrtek, Duben 26th, 2012

Indeed. A recent tour of National Life’s headquarters reveals just how much has changed in a year. I’m greeted in the second-floor lobby by Rusnock and Tim Shea, National Life’s vice president for facilities, purchasing and contracting. Shea, who’s overseen much of the building’s internal transformation, is there to explain “how the furniture can help people think differently about the way they work.”

We’re joined by Stephen Frey, architect and owner of Arocordis Design. Frey was hired by National Life to re-create its workplace to, as he puts it, “better reflect the values of the company in three-dimensional form.”

To understand how dramatic the change has been, we enter one of the last remaining sections of the building not yet renovated. It’s a drab, Dilbert-esque cubicle farm with harsh, overhead fluorescent lights and 67-inch-high partitions. Much of the furniture is three decades old and sprawls with mazelike complexity.

“Welcome to the cutting-edge action office of the late 1960s,” jokes Frey. “It’s like a rabbit hole. People used to get lost here.”

From there, we enter a stairwell that bathes us in gentle, ambient music as we climb to the third floor.

Inside, the transformation is dramatic. Gone are the high cubicle walls, replaced by glass walls and lower partitions that allow employees to see and converse with one another. Overhead fluorescents have all been replaced by soft, diffuse, energy-efficient lights. In fact, the entire lighting system is controlled by sensors that self-adjust based on the presence of people and the amount of natural light coming in from outside.

“I’ve heard a number of people comment that they feel healthier in the new space,” Rusnock notes. “Air flow is better, the lighting is better and the views are spectacular.”

Denise Graves, a programmer and analyst who’s been with National Life for 17 years, agrees.

“I like the open concept, and I like being able to see everybody,” she says. “You can find out if someone is available if you just stand up.”

Graves admits that the loss of personal space was “definitely a change. It takes a little longer in the morning to get set up, but once you do, you don’t have all that clutter, which can be a good thing.”

As Frey explains, such changes reflect a fundamental shift from “‘I’ space to ‘we’ space.” In the past, an office like this one was 80 percent workstations and 20 percent meeting areas; today, National Life’s offices are about 40 percent workstations and 60 percent communal areas for meetings, group projects, teleconferences and brainstorming sessions.

“It’s kind of exciting because people are more energized at their work areas. They’re not all alone in a room anymore,” Frey adds. “Literally lowering the walls and opening up the floor helps people move to a more collaborative space.”

Collaborative space is a buzzword also heard at Office Squared, a “professional coworking space” at 106 Main Street in downtown Burlington. Office Squared — O2 for short — provides freelancers, independent businesspeople and telecommuters with an affordable, centrally located spot where they can set up shop, hold business meetings, do presentations and work on projects anytime, day or night.

How larger regional aircraft are upscaling interiors

Čtvrtek, Prosinec 22nd, 2011

Regional aircraft cabins are undergoing extreme makeovers to look and feel more like their mainline brethren. Dual-class and triple-class configurations, thoroughly refreshed interiors with new LED lighting, and lightweight slim-line seats are only some of the features emerging on regional jets and turboprops manufactured by ATR and Bombardier and industry newcomers.

Even in-flight connectivity is making its debut in the regional sector. Some 223 regional aircraft operating as Delta Connection are being fitted with Gogo’s air-to-ground-based airborne internet system, as part of Delta Air Lines’ broader plan to fit its entire domestic fleet with the system.

A confluence of factors is driving the transformation of regional cabins. As pilot scope clauses have loosened, regional aircraft have grown in size. With 70-plus seaters now a fixture in the skies, airlines have more leeway in configuring their aircraft.

At the same time, major carriers have accepted they must offer a seamless in-flight product across fleet types if they want to meet the demands of their most exacting customers, frequent flyers and business travellers.

“With regional aircraft, historically we didn’t have the ability to deliver a [multi-class service] economically so, for example, it’s not really easy to get a first-class seat into a 19-seat turboprop without losing a whole lot of economy class seats.

But as regional aircraft have evolved [and grown] over time, the tube has gotten bigger, and that means you can configure them in different combinations,” says Mark Bergsrud, senior vice-president of marketing at United-Continental, which offers first class, an economy plus product, and economy class on all Bombardier CRJ700 and Embraer 170 regional aircraft operating under the United Express banner.

“As a marketing person, these [regional] partners of ours are extensions of our products and our brands and we need them to adhere to our product specifications and standards because our customers expect that. Getting on a United Express airplane with a livery that looks like United, with a United ticket bought with Mileage Plus [frequent flyer] miles, they need to have their product expectations matched,” adds Bergsrud.

United-Continental is extending its upgrade strategy to large turboprops. During the coming months, the 30 Bombardier Q400 turboprops operated by Colgan Air on behalf of United-Continental will be retrofitted to include a three-abreast first class cabin with 36in (90cm) seat pitch, as well as an economy plus section offering 34in pitch and economy with 30in pitch, says Gordon Pratt, director of Q programme management at Bombardier. “It spells seamless service big time.”

However, a refurbishment plan has not been defined for the 50-seat regional jets operated for the Star Alliance member. SkyWest, together with the ExpressJet operation it acquired last year, flies a great many 50-seaters on behalf of United-Continental, but “has not heard a lot about what is going to be delivered on the regional level yet”, says SkyWest vice-president of in-flight Sonya Wolford, noting that United-Continental has been focused on its own merger integration.

Shelters going green

Čtvrtek, Srpen 18th, 2011

Homeless shelters want to go green, but donors just don’t have that warm, fuzzy feeling they get from giving when they know the money is being spent on thermostats and insulation, according to shelter operators.

Shelters can help get more people off the streets if they are saving money because their buildings are more energy efficient, which makes shelters some of the best places to use “green” technologies.

The Ottawa Mission is trying to prove this through leading by example.

Over the past year, the 107-year-old shelter has saved thousands of dollars by becoming more environmentally conscious and it is poised to save another $25,000 next year thanks to even more green initiatives.

Often, philanthropy is focused on creating new beds in shelters or providing meals, but becoming more energy efficient is a means to that end, said Diane Morrison, executive director of the Ottawa Mission.

Putting new, better-insulated windows or a programmable thermostat can have an even bigger impact in the long term, she said.

“These are the hard things that when you ask donors, they don’t really think about that. They want to help people,” Morrison said. “So it’s easier to raise money for people to help people than to raise money for new windows, or insulation or a hot water heater. All of those things that are really needed here.”

The Mission recently replaced more than 100 of its 175 old, leaky windows with newer versions that seal in warmth and reduce the cost to heat the Waller Street building. Add that to other initiatives, such as an energy-efficient dishwasher that uses 50 per cent less electricity, reducing the amount of paper the mission uses and switching to LED diving flashlight, and the mission will cut its costs by an estimated $25,000 this year.