The Next Level in Office Amenities: Wild Horses
STOREY COUNTY (Nev.) — Although you can’t ride wild mustangs at Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, you will almost certainly see them running over the sagebrush in an area that feels like it’s from the 1800s.
In the past, the water cooler was the place to meet up and have a chat. On-site cafes were created, along with fitness and yoga studios, roof gardens, fire pits, and rock-climbing wall. Lenny Beaudoin is an executive managing director at CBRE.
For employers, the newest amenities to wow workers are ideological, with environmental commitments topping the list, said Jason H. Somers, the president of Crest Real Estate, a Southern California real estate consultancy.
He stated, “Health and Wellness have become the ultimate luxury.” This includes accessing nature. “Adding value for an employee’s wellbeing has a significant influence on a compensation plan.”
Nevada wildlife advocates argue that efforts to market wild mustangs for a “greener” image are interfering in the availability of the space and resources necessary to sustain the animals.
A green message is a powerful way to attract talent. But it can be difficult to live up to. While there have been advancements by corporate giants many efforts remain opaque so it’s difficult to spot greenwashing or the use sustainability efforts to seem more appealing.
Adopting high environmental standards is difficult and expensive. Some companies hire others to lower their carbon emissions. Others plant trees. These trees can take many years and require a lot of care and water.
It can be difficult to protect large mammals. The Nevada desert is a good example.
The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, a 107,000-acre office park, is home to more than 150 companies with a combined annual payroll of $750 million. Tesla, the company that built the battery factory, broke ground there in 2014. It is expected to be the most expensive building in the entire world when it’s completed.
Musk used wild horses to attract workers. “Come work at the biggest & most advanced factory on Earth! He shared his Twitter account, “Located by a river close to the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains where wild horses roam free.”
Tesla did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Kris Thompson (project manager at the office parks) stated that although there are many rogues within the tech world, so too are the horses.
But how does a wild horses help with productivity at the workplace?
“I think they’re symbolic of what America was, and they’re just beautiful,” said Jeffrey Berns, 58, a former consumer protection lawyer and the chief executive of Blockchains, a blockchain software development company. His company’s “DNA cares deeply about the environment,” he stated. This includes wild horses as well as animals.
He spends $300,000.00 a year on five water tanks for his herds and feeding programs. But, unlike Tesla he isn’t marketing them. Lance Gilman, the Mustang Ranch brothel owner and Storey County commissioner who purchased this land from Gulf Oil in late 1990s, embraced the vision of his animals.
“Lance’s an old cowboy,” Mr. Thompson stated. “His words mean something. “Tech entrepreneurs see that.”
Amazon, Walmart and PetSmart found that vacant land was attractive due to its accessibility and ease of transportation. Tesla utilized a $1.3B State Tax Break to build its $5B factory. This tapped into a local labor force still reeling following the Great Recession. Switch, a tech infrastructure company, established three data centers. Google then bought 1,200 acres. Blockchains bought 67,000-acres for $170 million in 2018,. This made them the biggest tenants of the park.
Mr. Berns hoped to transform the expanse into an experimental city run by his encrypted digital systems. He promised to build 15,000 homes and transform it into an innovation zone. His company will oversee all aspects of the project, including law, courts and water.
“I want this to become the greatest social experiment in the history of the world,” he said. It’s going be a mix of Disneyland and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
He’ll have to rethink the scope: In March, the county voted against the secession plan.
Mr. Berns claims he will develop approximately 25,000 acres of his 67,000-acres, but for the time it will be a refuge for wild horses.
Nevada is home more than half the 95,000 wild horses, burros and other animals in the United States. These are descendants of animals that were brought to America by Spanish conquistadors during the 1500s. Wild horses are protected on private and public land that is crossed by freeways.
Storey County’s approximately 1000 resident horses frequently descend from higher altitudes to find food and water. This can lead to fatal traffic from workers or lookieloos who are looking for the perfect photo. The industrial park is only 15 percent occupied. Mr. Thompson expects that occupancy will double within five years. This makes it a more complex experiment than expected.
Corenna Viance, founder of Wild Horse Connection advocacy group, stated that “We get about five urgent calls a month.” “Horses in traffic, on the wrong side of fencing, vehicular, train accidents, sick or ill horses.”
Rescues triple once mares start foaling, said Ms. Vance, whose annual budget is about $100,000, including small donations from the office park and tenants. She believes that further expansion will reduce open space and decrease grazing.
She said that horses have migration patterns and that a development cuts them off, allowing for more interaction with people.
One solution is to humanely manage horses’ fertility so that they don’t overpopulate or overgraze.
Suzanne Roy is the executive director of the non-profit American Wild Horse Campaign. She has been working with the office park since 2012 and has spent more than $200,000 on fertility, water, and feeding over the past three years.
She stated that “Development destroys wildlife.” Water stations, Switch’s underground crossing and water stations, are both helpful, she stated.
Simon Fischweicher from CDP, North American head of corporations & supply chains, stated that horses won’t offset the park’s overall carbon footprint. Tenants like Tesla, which have lithium-ion cells that are expensive to mine and nearly impossible for recycling, require a lot in energy.
Switch has its own solar panels. There are two green-fuel plants on the site. However, distribution, data centers and data centers use large amounts for heating and cooling. On average, supply chain emissions are 11.4x higher than operational emissions.
Others question the need to use the horses as a lure. According to Mr. Thompson, most of the approximately 25,000 employees at the office park are Nevadans who live within an hour’s drive. They’re not here for horses, but for their jobs.
Industrial park growth involves attracting workers from other states, expanding housing in close proximity and developing more land. This is all detrimental to wildlife incentives.
CBRE’s Mr. Beaudoin explained that the quality of food, retail choices, and housing will determine those decisions more than wild horses. “I wouldn’t bet against Elon Musk, but there is other factors that can attract workers.”