Hawkins Thomas

We publish our first impressions series to highlight the amazingly talented professionals on the Paladino team. This time we feature Hawkins Thomas – a previous Paladino employee who has returned to the team!

We’re glad you’re back! What influenced your return to Paladino?

Paladino is one of the premier sustainable consulting firms in the design/construction industry, and the company’s reputation has only increased since my departure. I am back because Paladino works with clients that possess aspirational visions of how a building can serve a need while minimizing its environmental impact. Paladino is unique because the company is rooted in the philosophy that clients’ goals should not be confined to a rating system, but rather be structured around important business outcomes.

I was working for a great general contractor, but I was limited in the breadth of influence I could have over developers’ sustainability objectives. It is rare that a GC is brought in early enough to inspire the team to think big about sustainability. I missed the impact of sustainability consulting in my day-to-day job, and I knew that only Paladino could provide that impactful experience. Coming back to Paladino would empower me to steer clients toward progressive and innovative sustainable strategies that align with their corporate values and needs.

How do you feel the green building industry has changed?

When I first started in this industry, people would ask me if green building was a fad. I would respond by comparing the green movement today to what construction safety experienced in the 1970s – imagine how many buildings were precariously constructed before the formation of OSHA in 1971. Now safety is at the forefront of construction coordination and we look back and wonder how we ever got by without it. We want safe job sites because ethically “it’s the right thing to do” but it also makes good business sense – just ask any developer about their insurance premiums. The same principle applies to the green building industry, and sustainability has become mainstream, sought after, and eventually it will be in the building code nationwide, like it is here in the District of Columbia.

What excites you about sustainable real estate?

I love reading statistics about green buildings and real estate. Both from a performance/efficiency standpoint, and especially analysis from the real estate market related to opportunities and financing. Green buildings attract long-term global tenants and buyers, result in lower rental vacancies, and increase rental rates – all while increasing productivity and worker/tenant satisfaction. It excites me that real estate professionals have embraced the strong client and market demand for green buildings. Developers and brokers realize that there is skin in the game for green spaces and the numbers don’t lie. When developers like Silverstein and Durst are embracing sustainability, it means something exciting is happening.

What role does sustainability play in your life outside of work?

I renovate properties after I buy them, so it plays a huge role. I’ve always been a nerd for construction materials, so I buy or require my contractor to procure products that meet the same indoor air quality and low emitting material standards that we apply to our Paladino client projects. It’s important to walk the talk – and it’s the right thing to do for my tenants and my own home.

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What do you do in your leisure time?

I love to go camping or vacation near the water to escape the city. If I’m in town, you will find me trying to play golf, or enjoying grilling with friends. Real estate is my passion, so I often find myself researching properties to invest in – “location, location, location!”

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What are you most proud of?  

I’m proud of my accomplishments – academically, personally, and professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am today without an amazing support system of family and friends, which I am very grateful for. It’s important to stay humble and treat all success like it’s your first gig.

What is something interesting about yourself that few people know?

My mother was born and raised in New Zealand, so I am a dual citizen. Also, I am a published author. If all else fails, you can find me writing in Auckland on the North Island.

You can invite any three people (living or not) to happy hour. Who would they be?

I’d invite the three top conquerors of the known world – Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, and Tamerlane. I think that would make for an interesting round of drinks!

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