Soon to Open in Seattle: Co-Working Hub Dedicated to Climate Change Initiatives

The climate tech sector is flourishing in the Pacific Northwest, attracting new innovators eager to tackle what some perceive as an existential crisis. However, the sheer scope of the problem can feel overwhelming, especially if attempted solo.

A venture called 9Zero intends to open a co-working space in Seattle where people can form a community, collaborate, and brainstorm climate solutions.

“Climate change can be daunting to the point of paralysis for many,” said Lowell Bander, the Seattle 9Zero project lead. “It can be very helpful to feel like you’re on ‘team climate.’”

9Zero launched its first co-working site in San Francisco in April and aims to establish a Seattle location as soon as August.

The company offers physical spaces similar to other co-working environments, featuring desks available for long-term or daily use and permanent offices for rent. The San Francisco office also hosts weekly events for members and guests. 9Zero’s tiered membership system is currently $25 per month for students needing occasional access, while all-access memberships begin at $300.

There are approximately 100 people on the waiting list for the Seattle office. Bander has organized events at Seattle cafes and bars for climate tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts to gauge local interest. About 150 people have participated, indicating demand for a permanent space. 

Bander mentioned that 9Zero is exploring a partnership with CoMotion Labs, the University of Washington’s innovation hub that supports startups both within and outside the university. 

Anson Fatland, associate vice provost for innovation strategy and venture at CoMotion, couldn’t provide details on the proposed arrangement but described the prospect of a Seattle location for 9Zero as “extremely exciting.”

“Giving people a space to help realize their vision, to make a dream come true, and to help make a positive impact on our region and our planet,” said Fatland, “I think that’s a pretty compelling reason to try and figure something like this out.”

Aina Abiodun, president and executive director of VertueLab, a Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit supporting the climate tech sector, agreed with the overall idea that the region needs communal spaces for such work.

VertueLab recently issued a report, she stated, calling for “physical places where folks can gather” to offer support for entrepreneurs and education for investors interested in the sector.

Next week, climate tech in the Pacific Northwest takes center stage with two events. PNW Climate Week kicks off Sunday with events in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver covering everything from climate culture to cutting-edge tech. There will be lightning talks, speed dating, clothing swaps, forest walks, and more. 

On Wednesday, the Bloomberg Green Festival commences, drawing an international audience of climate professionals to Seattle. Speakers include Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s first national climate advisor; voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams; drag artist and environmentalist Pattie Gonia; and many others. 

This convergence of climate work in Seattle underscores the region’s progress. For years, startups have strived to move the needle toward zero-carbon emissions and clean energy, leading to significant advancements in battery technology, nuclear power, and climate software. 

Bander envisions the planned 9Zero space serving two types of people: those keen to work in climate but unsure how to start, and those who have been laying the groundwork for years. 

“For folks who haven’t started working on climate, it can seem a little foreign,” Bander said. They might think they lack the proper background or credentials to contribute. Meeting others with diverse backgrounds who are making a difference can inspire newcomers, Bander added.

9Zero joins several other companies providing co-working spaces in the Seattle area. While some closed during the pandemic, others expanded and new spaces emerged.  

And there’s available space: office vacancies are rising in Seattle, reaching nearly 18.4% by the end of the first quarter of this year, according to real estate firm Kidder Matthews.

9Zero was founded last year by Duncan Logan and Matthew Joehnk to accelerate innovation through collaboration. 9Zero aspires to be “ground zero” for climate work; the name’s ‘9’ refers to the number of zeroes in a gigaton, a metric used to measure carbon emissions and removal. Before launching 9Zero, Logan was the CEO of RocketSpace, a company offering “office as a service,” before it shut down in 2020. 

Bander worked for Facebook as a software engineer for several years before shifting to community organizing with unhoused people in Seattle, followed by a stint in the clean energy startup sector. Bander saw 9Zero as an opportunity to meet the needs of climate tech innovators and combat burnout in the sector.

In Seattle, 9Zero is considering leasing a floor in the 28-story Financial Center downtown, Bander said. Vacancies on surrounding floors would permit expansion as needed. 

“We already know that there is demand from folks wanting to spend time working together,” said Bander. “I think initially, it will be very much focused on getting folks through the door.”

Editor’s note: Story corrected to state that Seattle 9Zero memberships are expected to start at $300.

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