At Unico Properties, Sustainability Is Built In
Unico Properties was founded to develop the University of Washington’s Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle in 1953. Today, the company owns and operates more than 18 million square feet of office, mixed-use and retail properties in cities across the United States. Unico’s portfolio includes such iconic buildings as Seattle’s Smith Tower, Portland’s U.S. Bancorp Tower (“Big Pink”) and Nashville’s One Nashville. It also includes some of the world’s most sustainable properties, including the LEED Platinum certified Circa Building in Denver (the company’s first ground-up LEED Platinum development) and Seattle’s Bullitt Center, which has been called “the greenest commercial building in the world.” Not satisfied with simply building environmentally friendly properties from scratch, the company retrofits older buildings to adhere to its high sustainability standards—including installing ChargePoint electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions.
Efficient as Nature’s Architecture
Unico Properties develops, operates, and manages some of the world’s highest performing buildings. The company is striving to make their buildings as healthy and efficient as possible. Consider Stone 34, the first commercially developed building to complete the City of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program (LBPP), the most rigorous sustainability program of its kind in the country. LBPP challenges buildings to operate “as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture,” including generating their own energy and recycling wastewater. The 5-story, mixed-use building, which houses athletic giant Brooks Running’s global headquarters, sports two LEED Platinum certifications and an ENERGY STAR® score of 100. With that level of commitment to excellence, it’s no coincidence Unico Properties chose ChargePoint—the first commercial electric vehicle (EV) charging provider to have its products ENERGY STAR certified—for its EV charging solutions. Unico currently has 108 ChargePoint ports in its properties around the country, with more coming soon.
" Sustainability is baked into our company culture and into the way we do business. The focus is on building efficiency and creating a healthy work environment for our tenants. It's the smart way of doing business. A variety of efficiency measures help reduce operating expenses while also improving the indoor environment. Healthy tenants are productive and happy tenants. "
Senior Manager of Sustainable Real Estate
Sustainability Is Baked into the Business Model
"We were looking for a company that we could really lean on to help us develop our EV infrastructure,” says Unico’s Senior Manager of Sustainable Real Estate Central Region, Edmée Knight, LEED AP O+M. “ChargePoint was that from the beginning,” she says. “Sustainability is baked into our company culture and into the way we do business. The focus is on building efficiency and creating a healthy work environment for our tenants. It's the smart way of doing business. A variety of efficiency measures help reduce operating expenses while also improving the indoor environment. Healthy tenants are productive and happy tenants," she says. Knight, who has worked in sustainability for most of the past decade, including nearly six years in her current role, knows something a lot of other commercial real estate (CRE) professionals are just now catching on to. Over the long run, building and operating sustainable developments isn’t only the right thing to do for people and the planet, it’s also the most profitable. “Sustainability in the built environment means efficient and healthier buildings, which helps reduce operating expenses and increases tenant satisfaction,” she says.
EV Charging Attracts Profitable Tenants
Adding EV charging into the sustainability mix is one way to attract sustainability-minded tenants to Unico’s properties, says Knight. “The charging stations are very much a tenant amenity,” she says. Unico offers free charging to EV drivers at most locations, but Knight notes that they’ve set pricing to kick in after a certain number of hours to incentivize people to move their cars so someone else can use the charger. Those types of integrated networking capabilities are another reason Unico Properties went with ChargePoint. “We were looking for a platform that was easy to use on the management side, with software that allowed us to manage several different stations from one place,” says Knight. Even when there’s an issue with the network signal—which has happened when a basement charger was unable to receive a strong cell signal—there’s another reason ChargePoint was the right choice for Unico: the service. ChargePoint technicians swept in to make sure drivers could charge while the company waited for a cell booster. “The customer service is astounding,” says Knight.
" I click on the station tab to go in and see what's going on with all my stations. I can see how many charging stations are being used right now, how many are available. I like that I can quickly see driver tips or feedback from the drivers we respond to—it's really helpful getting feedback from them. "
Senior Manager of Sustainable Real Estate
Beyond Astounding Service
That level of service doesn’t end with the EV charging solutions themselves. ChargePoint also helped Unico Properties navigate, and subsequently receive, several grants from the Colorado Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) through the state’s Charge Ahead Colorado program. That was on top of savings from an existing Xcel Energy utility EV infrastructure incentive program. Because Knight is in charge of sustainability for around 60 buildings in Unico’s central region (which includes Colorado, Texas and Tennessee), she says those types of incentive programs really help her get EV infrastructure approved in the sustainability budgets every year. “The more incentives we can get for charging stations, the better,” she says, especially with demand for EVs rising. With more and more tenants requesting EV charging Knight says they’ll continue to install ChargePoint stations at Unico Properties’ buildings. “ChargePoint always has the products we need,” she says. “It’s great.”
Unico Properties Needed
- A vendor capable of providing quality EV charging solutions that met the high sustainability standards of its brand
- Seamless networked solutions that are both easy to manage and easy to use
- A scalable, future-proof EV charging solution backed by industry-leading service
- An excellent charging experience for tenants
- ENERGY STAR® certified EV charging stations: 108 ports and counting
- Easy-to-use cloud services: Automated sustainability reporting that shows station usage and GHG emissions avoided
- Astounding customer service at every step of the journey
- User-friendly smart EV charging stations that meet both company and tenant demands
At ChargePoint, we believe stories have the power to change the world.
Our customers share their stories because they’re passionate about all the ways the electrification of transportation has impacted their organizations. Like many companies around the globe, they’ve discovered that what’s good for the planet can also be good for business. E-mobility is here to stay. Perhaps it’s time to tell your own story.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. We’d love to hear it.