Rackspace offers a unique, green way to recycle an abandoned mall

Summary:Say you're a fast-growing IT hosting service company adding 60 to 80 employees per month. You're maxing out your existing office space and need some new digs.

Say you're a fast-growing IT hosting service company adding 60 to 80 employees per month. You're maxing out your existing office space and need some new digs. Stat. How do you expand your company's physical footprint to accommodate more than 1,400 employees at your headquarters without completely contradicting your corporate green mandate?

In the case of Rackspace, the answer has come in the form of an abandoned San Antonio area shopping mall, according to the company's real estate manager, Randy Smith. The site covers 1.2 million square feet, and the data center portion of the facility is nicknamed "The Castle" among the company's "Rackers" (Rackspace-speak for employees).

Smith said Rackspace in the first phase of the company's mall refurbish project, it has gutted about 85,000 square feet. (The first phase is supposed be finished in the spring.) In the spirit of green building principles, the company is gunning for a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. In the first phase alone, it removed more than 50 tons of steel, copper and aluminum, which it sent to be recycled. When I spoke with Smith at the end of the last year, he said the company has taken out six tractor trailer loads full of building materials, which it sent off to Habitat for Humanity to be reused.

Here are some photos of the demolition process:

Photo Courtesy of SixthSeal

Photo Courtesy of SixthSeal

Photo Courtesy of SixthSeal Smith said Rackspace has taken many cues from its employees when it has come to designing the new space. For one thing, all of the design materials, such as the carpeting, were chosen for their ability to fit the profile for no or low volatile organic compounds that could be harmful to environmental health. The company is installing showers, so people who walk, run or bike to work have a place to clean up before turning up at their desk. The employees have also had a big say in lighting. Where possible, the design encourages natural lighting through solar polar skylights, and since the ceilings are high, lighting can be controlled at every workstation.

Finally, Rackspace is installing a rooftop garden and it has selected a sustainable food company, Bon Appetit Management, to handle the onsite chow service.

Here's some more local coverage of this unique, green way to recycle an abandoned mall.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Data Centers, Hardware, Storage


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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