Green Scene: How Jason Hughes Made His San Diego Office More Sustainable

It’s not easy being green, especially when it comes to eco-efficient offices. Yet, environmentally sustainable office space is more popular than ever before. San Diego-based Hughes Marino CEO Jason Hughes has long been ahead of the sustainable office-space movement, chronicling the importance of eco-conscious office space seven years ago on Hughes Marino’s blog. Jason Hughes has established sustainable office space in San Diego and beyond and aims to share his tips on how companies can make their offices greener. His company has long been the go-to corporation for tenant representation, construction management, and culture consulting services. Its award-winning company culture has also been a desirable tool in its arsenal of assets.

Jason Hughes implemented plenty of sustainable solutions at Hughes Marino’s San Diego 12,500-square-foot, two-story headquarters. He implemented a retrofit of the building’s halogen lighting to LED nearly a decade ago, and even used salvaged brick for its exterior curtain wall. While one of the company’s mantras is “If you dream, we can build it,” the desire to establish a sustainable workspace continues to be on the rise.

“The shift toward sustainable office construction and eco-friendly work environments is no longer just a trend, and we love seeing the many different ways our clients work to implement environmentally friendly aspects and practices into the workplace,” San Diego-based Jason Hughes said.

The company is continually recognized for its dedication as one of San Diego’s healthiest companies. Leaders and team members are frequently engaged in an open dialogue on how the business’ day-to-day practices can become even more sustainable and why the rush for more sustainable offices has never mattered more.

Forbes published an article earlier this year discussing that while 90% of executives think sustainability is vital, a mere 60% of businesses have a sustainability plan in place. One of the ways for these numbers to improve is for CEOs to get more involved in a sustainability strategy. In addition, the renewable energy market is showing no signs of stopping. By 2025, Forbes says that the market will reach $2.14 trillion.

Industry giants such as Amazon, Tesla, Apple, and Google focus on business practices that are more sustainable. By 2030, IKEA plans to reduce its climate footprint by 70% by using renewable and recycled materials. Uber is heading down a greener path to become a fully zero-emission platform by 2040. Apple aims to have a net-zero climate impact by 2030, and Amazon is barreling toward a 2040 goal of net-zero carbon. In October, Google announced its plans to run Google data centers and campuses entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030. In additional efforts to promote more sustainable energy, Google shares carbon emissions statistics to Google Flights, offers an energy-conserving service called Nest Renew, and uses AI for more energy-efficient traffic lights. In addition, Google Maps now lets users select the most fuel-friendly route. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai estimated this will save more than 1 million tons of carbon emissions each year.

Jason Hughes Is Paving a Greener Way. As corporations continue to shift to green, the commercial real estate sector is following suit. Jason Hughes is also a fan of Deloitte’s Amsterdam headquarters, called The Edge, known as the most sustainable office building in the world. It uses 70% less electricity than comparable office buildings and uses Ethernet-powered LED lighting, solar panels, toilets flushed with repurposed rainwater, and many other environmentally savvy features.

Jason Hughes is so impressed by the building concept that he sees it as the workplace of the future. He believes the eco-friendly, smart-building trend is here to stay and will one day be universally adopted in office spaces everywhere because the practice creates a more efficient workspace.

Another corporation Jason Hughes feels is raising the bar on sustainable office space is the LA-based The Honest Company, founded by Jessica Alba. Each floor of the office boasts a 100% ADA-compliant kitchen and pantries, and it provides the perfect backdrop for the brand, which sells eco-friendly products for children and the home.

For those companies opting for a more sustainable workplace, Jason Hughes recommends businesses acquire LEED certification. LEED certification offers four certification levels: certified, silver, gold, and platinum, leading to generous tax breaks and grants. A business must fulfill various requirements to obtain LEED certification, including compliance with environmental regulations and standards and maintaining reasonable site boundaries. Points go toward a company’s positive environmental impact.

LEED’s primary mission is to revolutionize buildings and communities’ design to promote a more environmentally sound work and life.

Hughes Marino’s San Diego headquarters is indeed LEED-certified and is home to four LEED Accredited Professionals. The staff on Front Street in San Diego worked meticulously to make sure the company landed the highly coveted certification. It’s an acknowledgment Jason Hughes is proud of and one that doesn’t come easily.

According to the LEED team at Hughes Marino, LEED certifications originated in 2000 and have encouraged healthier spaces with lower operating and maintenance costs.

The U.S. Green Building Council also recently released an article that investors prize LEED-certified offices for their skyrocketing value. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for LEED-certified office spaces, often garnering higher rents and occupancy rates.

For other businesses seeking LEED certification, Jason Hughes recommends the project be managed by the architect, contractor, or construction manager. For large or complicated projects, it might be helpful to involve a LEED consultant during the process.

Hughes Marino’s LEED-accredited professionals also emphasize the importance of preliminary meetings to determine a space’s LEED eligibility and the cost it could ultimately add to the project.

LEED certifications don’t come cheap. While certification costs can vary, according to Jason Hughes, the price runs around 2.5% to 6% of the project cost, and costs can vary depending on the credits. But the green-conscious buzz is typically a community-centric win and viewed as an asset in today’s ever-evolving business world.

Light the Way. When it comes to illuminating a workspace, Jason Hughes suggests swapping out incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient light bulbs, which could cut energy consumption by 70%. He also recommends installing daylight sensors to save energy when enough natural light comes into a room and considering installing Solatube skylights in rooms running low on sunlight. The clever cylindrical device captures sunlight and adds light to the room. For example, Jason Hughes installed a Solatube in a dimmer spot of his San Diego office and, as a result, needed to add fewer lighting fixtures.

Go With the Flow. All plumbing fixtures are not created equal. Jason Hughes advises installing low-flow toilets and faucets to cut water consumption. With more than 40% of office water used getting flushed down the drain, He encourages all employers to take a greener approach when it comes to commercial plumbing.

Paper Is So Yesterday. With the cost of paper rising throughout the pandemic due to shortages and shipping-price hikes, going paperless in the office today seems like a natural transition. “If you must print things,” Jason Hughes said, “go for recycled paper options with 30% or more post-consumer content.”

Once Is Never Enough. So much unnecessary waste can happen in an office with a plethora of paper plates, plastic utensils, and disposable coffee cups. Jason Hughes counteracted the one-time-use cup situation by providing his team with personalized tumblers and ensuring that each office is stocked with plates, mugs, glassware, and utensils that are washed nightly to reduce waste.

Power Down to Save Up. According to TechCrunch, leaving computers on overnight has cost companies more than $2 billion annually in the U.S. Jason Hughes encourages skipping sleep mode and shutting down computer equipment overnight to conserve energy.

Consider a Car-Free Commute. Public transportation, walking to work, and bike riding are always encouraged, but consider carpooling to the office when that’s not possible. By providing team members a little incentive to carpool or utilize public transportation, companies can encourage a more sustainable commute — and cut down on parking costs!

Reach for the (Energy) Stars. Office kitchen appliances can use a lot of energy. Shop around for more eco-friendly microwaves, refrigerators, and any other office kitchen supplies. Jason Hughes says seeking out appliances with the Energy Star logo is an excellent place to start. While Los Angeles has more than 580 Energy Star-certified buildings, San Diego isn’t far behind, with 164 Energy Star-certified buildings. These buildings generate fewer greenhouse gases and adhere to EPA standards.

Talk It Out. Bouncing eco-centric ideas off co-workers is an essential part of any office going green, according to Jason Hughes. “Business owners really need to encourage employees to start a dialogue on their ideas to make the office more sustainable,” he said. “It’s a great way to learn about co-workers’ habits and new ideas, and an encouraging way to all work together to secure a more sustainable future both in and out of the office.”

Small changes can also go a long way when it comes to going greener. Jason Hughes suggests putting recycling bins alongside trash cans and investing in reusable water bottles and reusable tote bags to give out to employees. These advertise company branding while doubling down to help the environment.

Ditch the Fax. Unless you’re going to hop in your DeLorean, there’s probably no reason to waste the paper on faxing in 2021. So the staff opts to use internet fax service instead. The fax goes to an email, and printing is optional.

Hughes Marino has also proudly partnered with the Center for Sustainable Energy. The nonprofit, which provides clean energy solutions, worked with Hughes Marino’s project management team to engineer more than $500,000 of the project and produce a LEED-standardized space.

Jason Hughes also upcycled furniture at his company’s corporate headquarters in San Diego, installed an energy-efficient HVAC system, and repurposed tile and carpet.

Change Is Powered by Millennials. According to Forbes, with millennials now 56 million strong in the workforce, a focus on more sustainable business practices is another obvious shift. A Nielsen survey reveals millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to admit they are changing habits to lessen their environmental impact.

Creating a workforce and workspace that millennials love has also been a priority at Hughes Marino. Natural light, more open floor plans, community spaces, residential-style furniture, gourmet kitchen amenities, shuttle service, and game rooms are also important to millennials, in addition to environmentally friendly practices. Millennials typically prioritize health and wellness and view their social and environmental impact as extensions of themselves.

In 2018, Fortune named Hughes Marino as of the Country’s Best Workplaces for Millennials. Millennials make up a significant portion of the team.

“We are truly honored to have been named one of the country’s best workplaces for millennials. We are constantly thinking of new ways to make our team feel validated and appreciated, and it is fulfilling to see our team so happy, and also to see the steady stream of applicants applying to work at Hughes Marino,” said Shay Hughes, the president, COO, and owner of Hughes Marino.

Shay and Jason Hughes stay energized by the inspiring, eco-friendly work atmosphere they’ve been able to craft. “We believe that if we invest and nurture our team, then they will give right back to our clients and company. Every Hughes Marino teammate has a stellar attitude and is dedicated to delivering excellence to both our clients and our communities.”

According to Conserve Energy Future, sustainable office spaces can positively impact employee health thanks to improved air quality; they also encourage productivity and overall camaraderie when it comes to being green outside the workplace.

EvoNexus CEO and director Rory Moore deemed Hughes Marino one of the most innovative brands in San Diego and has felt fortunate to have the company as a strategic partner. With EvoNexus’ dedication to seeking environmentally sound fintech startups, the collaboration was a natural fit.

Originally published at on December 8, 2021.




San Diego | CEO | Business Owner | Negotiator | Company Culture Expert

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Jason Hughes

Jason Hughes

San Diego | CEO | Business Owner | Negotiator | Company Culture Expert

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