Sustainability is an important element in office design and a core strategic feature that can help define a successful workplace. There are many benefits to running a sustainable office. Not only is it cost-effective, but it also aids productivity and if utilised correctly, sustainability can help boost company image and recruitment. Here are our top eight tips for designing a sustainable office.
Choose an environmentally sustainable building
Whether you are looking for a new office space or updating your current office space, energy efficiency should factor in your building choice. It’s important to remember when speaking of environmentally sustainable buildings, we are not just referring to the property structure or building practices, but also to the internal space. To better understand the building’s energy usage, an energy audit should be undertaken. This allows companies to better understand the building’s energy usage, weaknesses, and working practices. With this information, organisations have a more accurate vision of how they can design the space to maximise its sustainability.
2. Maximise natural light
A great way to design a sustainable office is to maximise natural light. Natural light not only lowers energy expenses but also has the added benefit of boosting staff productivity and wellbeing. There are several design tips businesses can incorporate in the office design to increase natural light. Perhaps the easiest way to make the most of natural light is to create an open work environment. The open design has the added benefit of giving employees a larger space to maneuver. Similarly, by keeping the office design minimal, natural light can easily flow into an office space without being hindered by bulky furniture.
3. Introduce a green energy supplier
Green energy often comes from renewable energy technologies such as wind power, solar energy, biomass, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power. However, not all renewable sources of energy are considered green. Hydropower is not considered ‘green’ due to the harmful process of building hydro dams. Therefore, when choosing the main energy supplier for your office, organisations must consider which will provide them with the highest environmental benefit.
4. Opt for sustainable furniture
In a recent report by Business Waste, it was estimated that over ’15 million used desks and chairs end up in landfill.’These findings are staggering and should be seen as an incentive to encourage change. This change can be triggered with small steps such as opting for sustainable office furniture that is typically made from renewable or recycled materials. Moreover, choosing durable materials has the added benefit of being versatile and long-lasting, which can have a big impact on improving the life cycle of furniture.
5. Create the right company culture
Each business has a different perspective on sustainability, but the one unifying idea is that it should be embedded in your culture. One method to effectively create a sustainable culture is through the creation of Green Teams. The benefits of assembling a Green Team are varied, not only do they help reduce a company’s impact on the environment, natural resources, and overall carbon footprint, but they can empower people by providing them with the platform to support sustainable operations. Green Teams can be involved in establishing recycling schemes, organising nature clean-ups, and arranging educational guest speakers.
6. Reduce disposable plastics
We are all aware that efforts must be made to decrease the amount of plastic that is generated every day around the world. As many of us spend a lot of time in the office space, this can be a great place to start. Firstly, having a recycling system in place is crucial, but employees also need to be informed on how to make the appropriate bin choices. To make this process easier, establish a waste distribution system, with obvious signage and even a colour system. In addition, offering reusable water bottles is an effective approach to reducing the demand for plastic bottles in and out of the workplace.
7. Designing for wellbeing
A sustainable office design will not only save energy, but it will also enhance wellbeing. The focus around wellbeing has been exemplified since the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has caused a generational shift in office design and changing the form of the office. Biophilic design is an example of a design trend that has emerged from this new focus. Biophilic design involves combining elements of the natural world into a building environment to create a connection between people and nature. By designing with nature in mind, offices can be a more productive space, with the added health benefits of reducing fatigue, stress levels and improving employee mental health.
8. Become certified
Becoming a certified environmentally conscious organisation is a great way to show your commitment to sustainability. An environmental certification is a third-party assessment of your organisations business practices about environmentalism and sustainability. Frameworks, rating systems, benchmarks, and standards are provided through accreditation schemes that aid in the creation of sustainable structures and interiors. Accreditation schemes like WELL building, partner up with businesses to give them guidance on how to improve health, set goals, and work towards achieving the accreditation.
In recent years the importance of sustainability in the office has been exemplified. Some of the key factors to consider when designing sustainable offices are green features, materials, company culture, and whether you should become a certified environmental-conscious organisation. However, before progressing, business leaders need to decide which aspects of sustainable design they want to priortise and determine what the companies sustainable goals should be.