My trip to The Alliance Center began with a three-hour flight from Atlanta, Georgia. Having been in a number of airports in the United States, spanning from coast to coast, it is often easy to believe that all of those hours in the air only managed to transport you to a building next door. However, in the Denver airport, I could already sense the cultural shift from the Southeast to the West. With the exponential increase in cowboy hat sightings alongside the many public endorsements of more sustainable practices, it was instantly clear that I was no longer in Georgia. Outside, this distinction became even more clear with the slight chill in the morning summer air offering respite from the stifling southern humidity. In the distance, as we journeyed to downtown Denver and The Alliance Center, there was a faint line across the sky of mountains hidden in haze.

Our next stop was Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a performing venue built into the existing red sandstone rock formations. What struck me most, outside the impossibility of going up and down the many stairs to see a concert, was the amazing use of the acoustic properties of a natural landscape to create an incredible performance experience. Even though the venue was not in use for a concert, numerous people were there to take pictures or to use the landscape for their morning workout. Although I didn’t get the chance to see a concert during this visit to Colorado, just by exploring the area I could see how deeply nature and the mountain landscapes are intertwined with the daily lives of Coloradans.

The pinnacle of the trip was our drive up to the top of the Rocky Mountains. From afar, the dark outline of the mountains looked like a painted backdrop, but as we drove toward it, slowly climbing in elevation, we seemingly entered that painting ourselves. From each lookout point, it settled in that the Rockies are the largest mountain system in

North America, stretching across 3,000 miles as mountain peaks rose in every direction. At an elevation of over 12,000 ft, it became clear why life in Colorado revolves around the natural landscape. When faced with the magnitude of these mountains, it is easy to forget yourself and thoughts of the day-to-day. The scope of the natural world beyond the bubble of city or state comes into view.

Through these trips to Red Rocks, Lookout Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park and elsewhere, I realized how constant contact with nature this awe inspiring could instill a shared need to protect it. Both the experience of new environments and my time spent in The Alliance Center building itself helped solidify the importance in advocacy work of progressing together by sharing knowledge of lived experience and going out to experience the communities for which you work firsthand. This visit to Denver was an invaluable experience because no number of pictures and research can compare to taking the MallRide through downtown or driving through the Rockies or staring out at Denver from above. The opportunity to work for The Alliance Center and explore Colorado this summer was incredibly eye-opening and provided an experience I will not soon forget.

As a Sustainability Skills Initiative (SSI) intern this summer, I certainly did not expect to be given the generous opportunity to come to Denver at the beginning of August. Alongside the three other interns, Hira, Ah’Shaiyah and Daniela, as well as Isabel Mendoza, organizer of the SSI program, I spent three days exploring popular places in Colorado. 

A picture of Larimer Square decorated with lights and flags at nightLower Downtown (LoDo) in Denver was home to a playful city life—full of interesting people and things to do, yet with plenty of open space. During one of our free evenings, my fellow interns and I tried to find interesting things to do on EventBrite and ended up at an amateur stand-up comedy club, then getting ice cream from Hidden Gems in Larimer Square. I had never been in a comedy club before, so this was already a surreal experience. When we reached Larimer Square, full of laughing patrons and glowing lights, I was hypnotized by its charm.

A picture of a yellow house in Estes Park surrounded by trees and a tall hill

We also visited Estes Park, a town surrounded by nature with a boardwalk-like area full of tourist-y stores and restaurants. Notably, we were able to try elk meat, a rare (pun-intended) experience for all of us. It was such a fun place with so many small, niche stores, such as the random Renaissance clothing store we stumbled into after said elk burgers. Like many other places in Colorado, Estes Park was full of charm and offered plenty of new things to explore for both tourists and locals.

Of course, for tourists, one of the biggest draws to Colorado is its natural beauty. As a tourist to Colorado, I had expected the natural and urban life to be completely distinct from each other; people would work in the city during the week, then drive hundreds of miles to some remote mountain hiking trail. I quickly realized this was not the case. 

The natural aspects of Colorado, from Rocky Mountain National Park to Red Rocks Amphitheatre to the Denver Botanical Gardens, were gorgeous—definitely a sight to marvel at after studying in the topologically flat state of Illinois and residing in the similarly uniform Connecticut for so long. As breathtaking as this scenery was to me, it must be no more than the ordinary backdrop of life for Colorado residents. Despite the wildfire haze, craggy peaks of huge mountains peeked out from behind tall office buildings, and plains of green-yellow raced past in time with highway traffic. The nature of Colorado was embedded so smoothly into the urban landscape of Denver, Boulder and other cities, and consistently reminded me of a new realization I had: that moving to a city did not necessarily mean I had to give up elements of nature in my life.

Plants on the windowsill next to a desk in the Alliance Center building

The Alliance Center building, with its environmentally-friendly design, many potted plants and blue-green-brown nature theme seemed to embody this ideal as well. During our tour of the building, I learned of the recent remodeling that specifically incorporated these themes, showing me yet again that this kind of balance between urbanization and environmental sustainability could be achieved in any building by utilizing space more efficiently. The Alliance Center is very focused on not only achieving environmental sustainability in energy and space usage, but also on catering to the needs of their clients. I was very impressed by the features in the building, like the open space cubicles that allow for more collaboration, the quiet “wellness room” that offers people the chance to relax alone for a bit and even the integrated exercise equipment. Overall, I think I would have loved to work in this building if I had stayed in Colorado long term, and I admire that the building is constantly being improved not only for the sake of the environment, but also for the clients and employees within.

Before coming to Colorado, I had always looked upon my future with trepidation and a bit of resignation. I figured I would end up working in a chaotic city even if I majored in environmental studies, and would then have to wait until retirement or something in order to regain the slice of nature that I’ve always treasured having in my daily life. Coloradan city life showed me that it was possible to retain both, and I look forward to seeking this rare balance in my future.

Rocky Mountain Wild is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to protecting the biodiversity of the Southern Rocky Mountain region. Their efforts have secured Endangered Species Act protection for dozens of species, including Canada lynx, Gunnison sage-grouse, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and the desert dwelling Debeque Phacelia. Through their campaigns, more than 2 million acres of critical wildlife habitat has been protected and restored!

We spoke with Rocky Mountain Wild’s Communications and Membership Manager, Chris Talbot-Heindl, about the organization and their experience as an Alliance Center tenant.

The Alliance Center: What does your organization do and how long have you been around?

Chris Talbot-Heindl: Rocky Mountain Wild works to protect, connect, and restore wildlife and wild lands in the Southern Rocky Mountain region. We’ve been protecting our region’s biodiversity since 1999!

TAC: What specific programs, practices or priorities is your organization most focused on right now? How have these evolved over time?

CTH: Rocky Mountain Wild is currently focusing on community science projects to do important research that will inform our conservation work and the work of our partner organizations. Protecting biodiversity is a huge job and our conservation biologists can’t do it alone, so we engage volunteers to answer real-world questions about problems facing wildlife in our region. Currently, we have four community science projects: Colorado Pika Project, Colorado Corridors Project, Colorado Bat Watch and Go Big! Central Colorado Bighorn Sheep Survey.

Colorado Pika Project is implemented by our community scientists across Colorado, who investigate the potential impacts of climate change on American pika and Colorado’s alpine ecosystem.

Colorado Corridors Project engages our community scientists in wildlife monitoring at three proposed sites for wildlife crossing structures along East Vail Pass between Copper Mountain Resort and the top of Vail Pass. This stretch has long been identified as one of the most important wildlife movement corridors in Colorado!

Colorado Bat Watch will engage community scientists to collect data and monitor bat species in Colorado. This will help land managers and conservation organizations develop strategies and programs to protect bats and their habitat.

The Central Colorado Bighorn Sheep Survey engages community scientists in recording their observations of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, domestic sheep and domestic goats in Central Colorado. The data will fill in our gaps of knowledge regarding their habitat and migration corridors, and will help managers plan for bighorn conservation as development, traffic and demand for recreation access increase in Colorado.

TAC: In what ways could The Alliance Center’s community help you achieve your mission? Are you looking for partnerships, advice and/or connections?

CTH: Protecting biodiversity is a huge job, and we’re a small team of eight, so we know we can’t do it alone. We are actively building a diverse community of activists, partners, community scientists, volunteers and philanthropists to help make our vision a reality. We are currently actively seeking additional board members that bring diverse cultural backgrounds, skills, ideas and perspectives to our team.

If you are passionate about our mission, and skilled in one or more of the following areas, we would love to hear from you: accounting, fundraising, JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion), app development, data management, conservation law or conservation biology. For more information, please visit rockymountainwild.org/board.

TAC: What is unique about your organization that you could offer to the community?

CTH: Rocky Mountain Wild has long offered our geographic information systems (GIS) services to other conservation organizations and community groups. After all, you generally can’t save something if you can’t map it. Our team of GIS specialists can provide maps and analysis to help members of the community tell their story to the pubic and to decision makers. From interactive story maps to detailed reports, our scientists can provide analysis and visuals that help others understand and communicate issues.

Additionally, we have a one-of-a-kind Assessment of Biological Impact (ABI) tool that helps us identify how proposed projects on public lands overlap with endangered species habitat, wildlife migration corridors, unique natural resources and more.

TAC: What does success look like for you as it relates to sustainability and your organization’s mission?

CTH: We envision a biologically healthy future for our region—one that includes a diversity of species and ecosystems, thriving populations of wildlife and a sustainable coexistence between people and nature.

Are you a tenant of The Alliance Center who would like to be featured in an upcoming Tenant Spotlight? Fill out this form!

Happy Pride Month, Alliance community! Pride Month takes place each June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a milestone for the queer liberation movement. It offers us a chance to honor LGBTQ+ folks who are no longer with us and to celebrate the love, joy, diversity and affirmation of queer and trans communities.

Here at The Alliance Center, we envision a future that is sustainable, equitable and provides all communities the opportunity to thrive. To accomplish this, our work must be intersectional, recognizing how our various identities influence our interactions with the world and how systems of oppression affect each of us in differing ways. Indeed, the environmentalist movement and the queer liberation movement are irrevocably connected—many of the same unjust power dynamics that perpetuate inequality and intolerance against queer and trans people also perpetuate unsustainable practices that are harmful to our environments, our communities and our futures. 

For this year’s Pride Month, we’ve assembled a list of some of the changemakers that are working at the intersection of queer liberation and environmentalism. We hope you’ll take some time—throughout the rest of June and beyond—to reflect on your own identity and how your unique voice might contribute to the environmentalist movement, the queer liberation movement and their intersection.

A person in a floral button-up shirt with a green hat on, holding a flower next to their face with other flowers in the background.

Vanessa Raditz is an environmental health researcher and youth educator dedicated to community healing, land and resource accessibility and the creation of thriving local economies based on human and ecological resilience. They are part of the founding collective of the Queer Ecojustice Project, which hosts events and workshops about queer ecojustice theory and strategy and offers a curated selection of multimedia resources for self-organized learning nodes. Raditz is working on a grassroots film project, Fire and Flood: Queer Resilience in the Era of Climate Change, rooted in their lived experience of the 2017 fires in Northern California. They also co-organized the Queers4ClimateJustice contingent to the RISE March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice in fall of 2018 and continue to manage the #Queers4ClimateJustice instagram.

A woman wearing ski goggles and a ski jacket stands on a snowy mountain.

Lindi von Mutius is an attorney, an educator, the Director of Board Operations and Strategy at The Trust for Public Land and a Board member for OUT for Sustainability, a platform for co-creating climate resilience and environmental justice by and for LGBTQ+ communities. Her work centers on bringing diversity to the environmental movement and highlighting the necessity of representation in outdoor spaces. In her article “The Look We Give”, von Mutius writes: “There’s a human need to find people like you doing the things you love; a yearning not just for acceptance, but for owning a shared experience. A biracial, bisexual, immigrant is still an oddity in the outdoor space. I once dated someone (for far too long) just because he was the only black man kayaking on Match.com. My bisexual pride flag is pinned to the outside of my backpacking pack, so that other queer folks know I’m there. I feel that this land—taken and colonized by white men; but shaped by the work of slaves, immigrants and people who look like me—is there for me to enjoy and protect.”

A person with dark hair, blue and pink highlights and a septum piercing sitting next to a dog with plants in the background.

Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd is a queer indigenous activitist and co-founder of Queer Nature, a nature education and ancestral skills program serving the LGBTQ2+ community. Although it is now permanently based out of Washington state, Queer Nature originally began in Colorado, right here in the Front Range! Along with their partner and co-founder, Sinopoulos-Lloyd works to increase cultural access to outdoor pursuits, especially survival skills like bushcraft, tactical skills and ethical hunting. They are dedicated to building interspecies alliances and an enduring sense of belonging for marginalized communities while maintaining awareness of impact and good land stewardship practices. 

A drag queen with long red hair wearing backpacking clothes stands in a forest holding a cardboard sign above her head that says "Mother nature is a lesbian" in all caps.

Wyn Wiley, also known as his backpacking drag queen alter ego Pattie Gonia, uses humor and entertainment to raise awareness about climate change and to bring attention to intersectional environmentalism. With her high heels, sustainably sourced outfits and heartfelt captions, Pattie Gonia works to make outdoor spaces safer and more accessible to marginalized communities. “Intersectional environmentalism lets us weave in our humanity, our culture, our queerness and our color into environmental work. We tell ourselves that all these issues are separate, but I think the magic happens when you intersect one thing with another. If you look at any space where people are making change, you will find queer people, you will find people of color, you will find indigenous people—and you’ll find women,” explains Wyn.

Once again, happy Pride Month, Alliance community! We love, appreciate and stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ colleagues and friends.

Free Range Beehives is a local, two-generation, family-owned corporate beekeeping business that installs and maintains beehives on building roofs for companies. Free Range Beehives is deeply knowledgeable about the Front Range and hopes to improve the region’s environmental health, support the dwindling honeybee population and make Colorado buildings greener.

We spoke with Free Range Beehives’ David Mathias, Partner and Co-Founder, and John Rosol, Chief Sustainability Officer about their business and their experience as an Alliance Center tenant.

The Alliance Center: What does your organization do and how long have you been around?

David Mathias and John Rosol: We engage businesses in the restoration of declining honeybee populations in Colorado. Companies purchase our turnkey solution and host hives to help bolster the environment and grow their sustainability impact. We provide the services of maintaining the hives, producing public relations and marketing content for our clients, educating their tenants and employees and extracting the honey for our clients to distribute to their team and customers. We are just starting out and have been in business for less than one year.

TAC: What specific programs, practices or priorities is your organization most focused on right now? How have these evolved over time?

DM & JR: Beekeeping is a very specialized and localized practice—almost an art form because of Colorado’s variable weather, seasons and location. We have thousands of hours of beekeeping experience. Our priority is to help honeybees prosper while engaging businesses in this fun, interactive and personal way of practicing sustainability. We provide education to employees of our clients who want to “suit up” and get into the hive. We also have a well-established research platform.

TAC: In what ways could The Alliance Center’s community help you achieve your mission? Are you looking for partnerships, advice and/or connections?

DM & JR: We are so happy to be part of this like-minded community. We believe the Alliance community can best serve us by helping us get the word out to their customers and other stakeholders. We have a limited marketing budget at this time so building awareness is key. Of course, we welcome any advice on starting a new organization, and we look at any and all partnership opportunities as word of mouth has thus far been our strongest selling channel.

Four men standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the entrance to The Alliance Center.

TAC: What is unique about your organization that you could offer to the community?

DM & JR: We are unique in the sense that we are the only ones running this type of business (that we know of) west of the Mississippi River. There are others with similar business models, but they are mostly located on the East Coast and probably don’t know much about Colorado’s climate and biodiversity. We also have purposely built relationships with local suppliers and retailers so all of our honeybees and equipment are sourced from local businesses. There are probably cheaper ways to operate, but we want to support local, specialty companies.

TAC: What does success look like for you as it relates to sustainability and your organization’s mission?

DM & JR: Our goal is to set up a distributed apiary of honeybee hives across the Front Range spreading out the hives so as not to overpopulate an area. We want to ensure all of Colorado’s ecology, particularly those in urban settings, are covered by these amazing pollinators.

TAC: What is your proudest achievement as an organization?

DM & JR: We are proud that our very first client was the Gates Corporation. This $3 billion dollar company wanted to engage in a manageable sustainability project to help the bees and also demonstrate their commitment to being socially responsible. They mentioned that there is no better way to welcome your employees back to the office than by providing a connection to nature—and eventually some really good honey!

TAC: What is a specific challenge your organization has faced and how have you overcome it?

DM & JR: Many people are hesitant to install beehives on their properties with concern over the chance of being stung. We approach this not as a challenge to be overcome but as an opportunity for education. We teach our clients all about honeybees and how unlikely it is that the bees will sting them. We teach them statistics—one study found that the risk of being stung by a honeybee is no more likely if hosting a hive than if not, and the Harvard School of Public Health found the chance of being stung by a honeybee to be 6 million to 1.

A close-up shot of a single honeybee.

TAC: How long has your organization been connected with The Alliance Center?

DM & JR: We have been a part of the Best for Colorado program out of The Alliance Center since January of 2021, but our place in the building is quite new. We have only been set up in the physical space for one month, but we are extremely excited to work among this community and to get to know the fantastic organizations we share the building with!

TAC: Why did your organization choose The Alliance Center over other working spaces?

DM & JR: We chose The Alliance Center because of the community, and we think our mission lined up best with that of The Alliance Center. While we looked at a couple of other shared workspaces, it was really The Alliance Center’s tenants and what they do within the sustainability field that drew us here. As a like-minded community, it is our hope that we can learn from other organizations while supporting them ourselves. It really comes down to shared values with others in the building.

Are you a tenant of The Alliance Center who would like to be featured in an upcoming Tenant Spotlight? Fill out this form!

When up to 80 percent of jobs come from networking, it doesn’t feel like doing so is a choice. Networking doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) feel like a chore. It’s is a way to learn more about an industry or specific position AND build meaningful relationships. The following tips will help you network yourself to a Colorado sustainability job!

  1. Join a Professional Sustainability Group

One of the easiest ways to get started on your networking journey is to surround yourself with people in your industry of interest! While this can seem daunting, many organizations have groups to attract like-minded individuals. One of our favorite sustainability memberships is run by The Alliance Center. For between $25-100 a month, you get access to exclusive job boards, sustainability focused events and more. Facebook groups like Green Jobs Network and Women in Sustainability Colorado are other great options.

  1. Reach Out to Alums in Sustainability 

Networking is often made easier by an initial shared connection. College or high school alums can be great people to chat with to learn more about the sustainability field and careers. Look for people with a similar major or at organizations you’re interested in working at.

How do you find alumni? Ask your career center to help you—most career centers will help both current students and alums. LinkedIn is another way to find alumni in your geographic area and industry. Informational interviews allow you to learn more about industry trends, specific positions and areas to focus your professional development. As an added bonus, alumni will often share job postings that you may be interested in!

  1. Attend Sustainability Events and Talks

Attending sustainability events and talks can benefit you in multiple ways. First, the speaker and event attendees likely have similar interests. For example, folks at a solar talk likely have a personal or professional interest in the topic too. Chatting with attendees before and after event is an organic way to build meaningful personal relationships in sustainability. Secondly, the event will cover a topic you’re interested in. Attending relevant events allows you to stay updated on trends in the sustainability field.

Universities and nonprofits regularly host speakers and hold events. Look online for events in your area or increasingly popular virtual events. Here are a few great places to start: The Alliance Center, Best For Colorado Coffee Chats, Sierra Club Colorado.

  1. Get an Internship in the Sustainability Field

Doing is one of the best ways to learn. Internships allow you to work closely with professionals in the sustainability industry and develop your skillset. By working alongside staff at an organization, you’ll develop a deep understanding of the organization’s team culture and work. Depending on the program, you may work alongside peers with similar professional aspirations who can be great friends and resources. Sign up for The Alliance Center’s newsletter so you can stay in the know about various internships and Colorado sustainability jobs offered by their tenants.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteer at a locally focused sustainability organization in your area! Staff members often facilitate events so, you’ll get the chance to understand an organization’s culture and build personal relationships with like-minded individuals. They may also be able to connect you with other professionals in sustainability to help you find a Colorado sustainability job.

  1. Follow Sustainability Organizations on Social Media

Staying up to date on current trends in sustainability is a way to elevate your networking conversations and stay updated on job postings. Social media is an easy way to stay updated. Think about the kind of work that you’re interested in and find companies and organizations that align with that work. Here are a few organizations to get you started: The Alliance Center, Sierra Club Colorado, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Groundwork Denver, Conservation Colorado, Namasté Solar.

 

Let us know on Twitter (@thealliancecntr) which tips help you network to your first Colorado sustainability job.

 

A year ago, businesses and individuals grappled with a new reality: how to operate in a pandemic. More than a year later, the new normal seems to be shifting once again. As vaccines become more available workplaces have to determine what’s next. Will businesses remain fully remote? Will they immediately return to fully in-person work? While each business is different, some combination of those options seems like a likely reality.

As we continue to navigate an ever-changing landscape of hybrid work environments and increased vaccination rates, some yearn for a workspace away from home. From a Denver coworking space to coffee shops, here is the official round up of our favorite workplaces… away from home:

1. Serendipity Coffee Bar (1536 Wynkoop St #1130, Denver, CO 80202)

Serendipity coffee bar, coffee shop in the Alliance Center

Serendipity combines modern with cozy. Modern chairs and tables nestle alongside brick walls, airy windows and thriving succulents. They serve delicious teas, snacks, meals and coffees, including Pablo’s. The staff are incredibly kind and can offer helpful suggestions on which beverage to select and which options are vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. Whether you need a relaxing spot to check your inbox or the coffee shop ambiance and background noise, Serendipity will meet your needs.

Not sure where to go when you get there? Serendipity is located inside The Alliance Center’s state of the art building and Denver coworking space!

2. The Alliance Center (1536 Wynkoop St, Ste 100, Denver, CO 80202)

desk in denver coworking space with views of lodo

The Alliance Center, a Denver coworking space, offers flexible options for those times when you need a desk or conference room and a professional environment. Wondering if it’s safe to work in an office building during a pandemic? The Alliance Center is the first nonprofit commercial building in the United States to be awarded the rigorous WELL Health-Safety rating. The building offers sweeping views of LoDo, high speed internet, is dog friendly and perhaps, most importantly a professional space away from home.

Joining the Alliance’s membership program is great way to get access to discounted, flexible coworking spaces and other benefits.

3. Whittier Cafe (1710 East 25th Avenue, Denver, CO 80205)

outdoor seating at whitter cafe, tables and heat lamps

If you’re looking for a spot with great outdoor seating, check out Whittier Cafe. Whittier Cafe is a black owned expresso bar in the City Park neighborhood. On chilly days their patio offers a perfect spot to settle down with your computer amongst their heat lamps. They serve pastries, sandwiches and an assortment of delicious beverages. Looking to meet up with friends after work? They serve beer and wine for your post-work drink!

4. Mark’s Coffee House (2019 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80206)

exterior of st. mark's coffee house, patio, with black tables and chairs, red building

St. Mark’s has plenty of choices for both indoor and outdoor seating and provides a laid-back work environment. Located on 17th Ave. in the City Park neighborhood, ample free parking is available nearby. St. Mark’s opens their garage style doors to maximize ventilation throughout the spacious seating area. If you prefer, their outdoor patio is a prime dog and people-watching spot. When you stop at St. Mark’s we highly recommend their scrumptious cookies!

5. PigTrain Coffee Co. at Union Station (1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO, 80202)

exterior of union station in denver, co

The stunning, newly renovated interior of Union Station maintains the historic feel of the building while adding a modern flair. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of plush couches, games and food and drink options to choose from. We love to settle down with a laptop and a macchiato from PigTrain. Looking for another reason to love Union Station? Their building is Gold LEED certified!

 

What is your favorite place to head when you need as respite from being home? Have you tried a Denver coworking space, like The Alliance Center? Let us know on Twitter (@thealliancecntr)!

 

As early adopter, The Alliance Center achieves WELL Health-Safety Rating

DENVER – More and more frequently students are returning to their classrooms, restaurants are reopening and as time progresses we are getting closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. For office workers the return to work comes along with concerns about whether their workplace is a safe space to be. The Alliance Center is happy to announce it has received the WELL Health-Safety Rating to assure customers their building is safe and allow them to feel more comfortable about returning to the office. 

The Alliance Center, a 40,000-square-foot collaborative working space in the heart of Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver, has been a leader in the sustainability movement since its founding in 2004. The 113-year-old facility continues to be recognized as a leader in environmental performance and was recently identified as the most energy efficient building in LoDo and 9th in all of Denver. 

As the immediate response to the COVID pandemic began to subside, The Alliance Center turned its attention to how to provide tenants and visitors of their space the assurance needed to return to the building with peace of mind. This focus pointed towards the International WELL Building Institutes’ (IWBI) WELL Health-Safety Rating. The rating requires third party verification on topics such as reducing surface contact, planning for healthy re-entry, supporting mental health recovery, monitoring air and water quality and more.

“We were pleasantly surprised that many of the features identified by IWBI as helpful tools to promote a safe office were already in place at the building. We simply needed to document those practices and policies to achieve the rating” Chris Bowyer, director of building operations for The Alliance Center, said. “We are excited to be one of the first in Colorado to achieve WELL Health-Safety, but we are even happier this will provide our community with additional reassurances we are doing our absolute best to provide a space that will allow our tenants and guests to feel safe in their work environment” he continued.   

The Alliance Center was able to accomplish this rating by redoubling their efforts on human health and wellbeing, which have been a cornerstone to their ongoing operations since their founding. Some elements like replacing push button soap dispensers for automatic ones, adding directional signage and installing plexiglass dividers were common sense improvements to incorporate as an early response to COVID. Many more, such as maximizing outdoor air, documented emergency procedures and teams, annual air quality testing and providing progressive benefits to their staff, were in place well before the pandemic began. The Alliance Center will use this new rating as a framework to educate its community about how buildings impact human health along with everything The Alliance Center is doing to improve occupant health and wellness.  

As the light on the horizon continues to brighten, The Alliance Center is excited to welcome more of its community members back and provide them a safe space where they can be at ease and focus on their important work. The accomplishment of receiving the WELL Health-Safety rating serves as an important tool in this process and displays The Alliance Center’s neverending dedication to the wellbeing of everyone who enters their doors.  

About the Alliance Center

The Alliance Center is a nonprofit focused on holistic sustainability with an event and collaborative working space in the heart of lower downtown Denver. We demonstrate sustainability in action and mobilize change agents to accelerate solutions. The Alliance Center is a model for innovative green building practices, collaborative working techniques and engaging educational programming—all designed to scale up the sustainability movement. For more information, visit thealliancecenter.org and follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

Quick Facts

  • The Alliance Center utilizes its building as a living laboratory, demonstrating sustainability in action and testing innovative green building practices to improve sustainability in the building sector and the wellness of building occupants.
  • The International WELL Building Institute develops and administers the WELL Building Standard (WELL), a roadmap for creating and certifying spaces that advance human health and well-being. Backed by the latest scientific research, WELL sets pathways for accomplishing health-first factors that help everyone do their best work and be their best selves by supporting our physical and mental health across ten core concepts.

Available for comment

  • Chris Bowyer / Director of Building Operations / The Alliance Center
  • Jason Page / Chief Operating Officer / The Alliance Center

Contact

This interview is with Sofia Corley, Member Services and Admin Assistant at Colorado CarShare (formerly eGo CarShare).
What does your organization do and how long have you been around? 
Colorado CarShare started in Boulder in 1997 as “The Little Red Car Co-op.” Since then we have remained focused solely on serving our neighbors in the Denver/Boulder area. We are proud to be an institution that contributes to making Colorado the best place to call home. We are Colorado’s first, only – and one of the nation’s longest running – nonprofit carshare organizations working to make a positive impact on the environment and local residents’ health, wealth and community.
What specific programs, practices, or priorities is your organization most focused on right now on? How have these programs, practices or priorities evolved over time?  
Currently, we are very focused on electrifying our fleet, increasing our vehicle locations to be more inclusive throughout low-to-mixed income communities and building back up our organization’s safety net during and after the impacts of COVID-19. Being the nation’s first all electric car share nonprofit has been a goal of ours for a long time, but we have recently taken great strides in bringing this dream to fruition.
We recently received a grant from the City and County of Denver for six new electric vehicles and another grant is in the works for two more. We foster inclusivity through strategic locations, partnerships and heavily discounted rates to serve low-to-mixed-income and older communities. Especially now, vulnerable members of our community who do not own cars depend on us to fill the gaps necessary to create efficient connections with other affordable transportation options. We do our best to strategically place our shared vehicles where people live and near public transit to make it possible to live a car-free lifestyle in the Denver/Boulder area.
In what ways could The Alliance Center community help you achieve your mission? Are you looking for partnerships, advice, connections?
With over 50% of our members having annual family incomes of less than $50,000, many of them participate in qualified low-income housing programs, including Denver Housing Authority (DHA), Habitat for Humanity (HFH), Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) and others. Providing these families with access to our fleet wouldn’t be possible without these incredible partners. We are always looking to expand our collaborations to grow our capacity for supporting our communities that are most in-need.
What is unique about your organization that you could offer to the community? 
Colorado CarShare is unique among The Alliance Center community because we are equal parts environmental and social equity nonprofit and small business. This duality allows us to serve our community and protect our environment by offering an essential service at an affordable price – all the while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from one of the biggest polluting industries: transportation.
What does success look like for you as it relates to sustainability and your organization’s mission? 
Our goals are based on reduction in single occupancy vehicles (SOV), an increase in the use of alternative mobility modes and an increase in personal wealth and access to vital services in disadvantaged communities. We measure these impacts through:
  1. Data from our carshare vehicle use
  2. External national studies
  3. Direct member surveys
We translate our data to quantified carbon and other impacts based on the fact that on an annual basis, every round-trip station-based carshare vehicle in service results in the following:
  •  Replaces 9-13 personally owned vehicles
  •  Reduces an ~ 150,000 vehicle miles travelled (VMT)
  •  Averts over 8,000 gallons of gasoline from being used (Electric vehicle savings are greater)
  •  Prevents over 73 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere
  •  Helps our members drive an average of 44% less and save around $6,500 in car expenses
By multiplying that by ~50 vehicle fleet and over 3,500 Colorado Carshare members you can calculate our overall local community impact. Through a unique combination of partnerships, strategic vehicle locations and affordable rates, we work to connect the mobility dots to complete affordable, sustainable transportation options for all Coloradans, especially those who are otherwise disadvantaged.
What is your proudest achievement as an organization?
We are proud to be Colorado’s only, and one of the country’s longest running, nonprofit carshare organizations. We were sharing before the “shared economy” as a concept existed. We’ve watched many of the multi-national and venture capital backed, supposed disruptors come and go, most of whom had zero interest in supporting our local community.
What we do is innovative as our fleet of strategically placed vehicles allows our members to maximize their transportation options while saving money, mitigating traffic and supporting a cleaner environment. This includes reducing personally owned vehicles, miles, gas consumption and carbon emissions. On top of that, our goal is to be the country’s first nonprofit EV carshare organization. This includes supporting mixed income communities that are typically underserved when it comes to affordable mobility options. In doing so, we are creating a scalable, replicable model that can be expanded across Colorado and nationally.
What is a specific challenge your organization has faced and how have you overcome it?
Over the years, we’ve faced many multinational mobility businesses entering the market, some as start-ups with deep pockets and others that were started by automobile manufacturers. What most of them didn’t understand is the unique needs and challenges at a local level and as a result most of them have come and gone.
More recently, the current public health and economic crisis almost knocked us out. Even though we are a nonprofit, most of our revenue is from earned income (carshare member use).  Starting in March of 2020 when the first stay-at-home order was activated, we lost over 85% of our earned income pretty much overnight. We overcame it by getting out in front of the issue with early and proactive fleet sanitization, member and public communications and “furloughing” a significant portion of our fleet in order to drastically cut expenses. All of our staff took voluntary pay and time cuts so that we didn’t have to let anyone go, which helped along with the CARES Act’s PPP loan and several emergency COVID recovery grants.
How long has your organization been connected with The Alliance Center?
We have been tenants of the Alliance for over a decade, including having one of our carshare vehicles on-site and available for Alliance staff, tenants and the community. We are currently adding an all-electric carshare vehicle there as part of a solar to EV pilot project that will include feeding the vehicle’s battery storage back to the building during peak demand, which we’re super excited about.
Why did your organization choose the Alliance over other working spaces?
One thing that makes Colorado so special is the numerous organizations whose sole mission is to help the environment and communities in need. The Alliance Center is home to so many of these organizations, which is why Colorado CarShare chose it as a working space. Being surrounded by these inspirational organizations reminds us that we are not alone in the pursuit of our goals. As part of this community, we are more confident in our ability, as an organization and as a society, to reduce our collective impact on the planet.
What’s your favorite memory of being in The Alliance Center? 
We loved the sustainability related in-person events where we could come together with like-minded organizations and people to meet, network and share vision and action.

This interview with with Alliance Center tenant, Skillful

What does your organization do and how long have you been around? 
Skillful focuses on workforce and economic mobility through skills-based practices. We’re a nonprofit dedicated to enabling all Americans – particularly those without a four-year college degree – to secure good jobs in a changing economy. In partnership with Microsoft and others, Skillful is developing skills-based training and employment practices in collaboration with state governments, local employers, educators and workforce development organizations.
What specific programs, practices, or priorities is your organization most focused on right now on? How have these programs, practices, or priorities evolved over time?
We’re focused on career coaching and employer and digital solutions for middle skilled workers. These programs have evolved from only direct user to business-to-business programming.
In what ways could this community help you achieve your mission? Are you looking for partnerships, advice, connections? 
The Alliance Center community could our mission through partnerships for coaching work, expansion of skills-based hiring practices among Alliance organizations and partners and leveraging digital solutions to expand our programs.
What is unique about your organization that you could offer to the community?
Skillful focuses on helping all US workers achieve greater economic sustainability by focusing on skills. We advocate for career coaching and pathway planning based on skillsets to help workers see career trajectories formerly unforeseen to them. We also promote for the adoption of skills-based hiring practices for employers to remove barriers economic mobility for middle skilled workers and create a more inclusive talent management process.
What does success look like for you as it relates to sustainability and your organization’s mission? 
Success would include skills as the common currency for all workers in the economy allowing economic sustainability and mobility for all including those without a college degree.
What is your proudest achievement as an organization?
Our organization’s proudest achievement is definitely creating over 50,000 better pathways for middle-skilled workers and working towards systems change throughout the state of Colorado and in the US as a whole.
What is a specific challenge your organization has faced and how have you overcome it?
We are constantly working to overcome the stigma around career mobility and skills. This has been a barrier in both employer and coaching work for Skillful.
How long has your organization been connected with the Alliance Center?
Skillful has been at The Alliance Center since 2016.
Why did your organization choose the Alliance over other working spaces?
We chose The Alliance Center because it provides a collaborative environment and focuses on community.
What’s your favorite memory of being in the Alliance Center? 
Some of our favorite memories of The Alliance Center include the monthly happy hours, fika and events hosting outside speakers that allowed for community-building and partnership creation.

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