How Technology is Driving Sustainable Workspaces | Oktra
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  • How Sustainable Workplace Technology is Driving ESG Strategies

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Patrick Isitt
Content Manager
Content specialist in office design and build.
  • Sustainability is rapidly becoming a critical priority for businesses worldwide. And it’s not just supply chain management and sustainable products being considered. Commercial buildings account for over half of all energy used in the UK, despite making up just 7% of non-domestic buildings.

    Many businesses see sustainable workplace technology as a key solution. According to research by JLL, measuring and improving sustainability metrics was one of the top drivers of real estate technology adoption. It was second only to increasing and generating new revenue.

    It’s not hard to see why. Sustainability has become a top priority for both consumers and employees. 78% of UK adults are concerned about climate change and half of employees are keen to see their company invest more in sustainability. As a result, businesses are increasingly implementing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies.

    In this article, we’ll outline what sustainable workplace technology entails, the benefits for businesses and how it can improve ESG performance.

  • What is sustainable workplace technology?

    Sustainable workplace technology covers a range of systems, applications and platforms that allow organisations to minimise their energy output. It includes:

    • The Internet of Things (IoT) – A network of connected devices that make it easier to run commercial buildings.
    • Smart buildings – Buildings designed with smart technology at their very core, including lighting, HVAC and security systems.
    • Sustainability platforms – Software and applications designed specifically to help businesses minimise energy output and operate more sustainably.
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  • Why are businesses investing in sustainable technology?

    Creating smart, sustainable workplaces is a top workplace tech trend in 2024. According to JLL, sustainability tech will account for the largest share of planned increases in technology spend. Energy and emissions management, smart energy infrastructure and sustainability reporting tools are being prioritised for adoption.

    Here’s why so many businesses are getting on board.

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  • Improving ESG

    We’ve already mentioned the importance of ESG to modern businesses. It maintains their corporate social responsibility (CSR), which is vital if you’re going to attract both customers and staff. Many companies have even set their own net-zero targets, with 929 firms from the Forbes 2000 list setting targets as of June 2023.

    Providing a competitive advantage

    Beyond CSR, sustainability initiatives can actually provide a competitive advantage for businesses. Our Future Workplace report revealed that eco-friendly and sustainable materials are important to satisfaction in the office for 61% of Gen Z and Millennials, for example.

    Companies that go over and above their basic responsibility can use sustainability as a selling point. It could help them attract the best talent or appeal to the most eco-conscious consumers.

    Generating cost savings

    Finally, there is the cost. While the space itself is invaluable to organisations from a social and collaborative standpoint, businesses are making conscious efforts to cut overheads – whether that’s reducing energy consumption or redesigning underutilised space.

  • How is workplace technology data improving ESG performance?

    The key value offering of workplace technology is data. More specifically – accurate data. Data – and the technologies needed to collect and analyse it – are foundational components to any successful decarbonisation strategy, helping to make informed decisions, identify attainable targets and assess progress.

    Whether it’s IoT devices with sensors, smart lighting systems or bespoke apps for energy usage, workplace technologies can collect accurate data. That data is critical in enabling business leaders to improve ESG standards cost-effectively and successfully.

    Workplace technology can collect and analyse data across all aspects of your workplace, including:

    • Energy consumption
    • Water consumption
    • Consumables
    • Repairs
    • Maintenance

    This provides visibility for businesses to better understand their operations, making management easier. You can then begin to identify areas with room for improvement.

    Below, we’ll look at some of the applications of sustainable workplace technology.

  • Increasing energy efficiency

    According to the UN Environment Programme, the building and construction sector accounts for around 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions. For many companies, achieving their emissions reduction targets won’t be possible with their existing footprint and operations.

    Energy management systems can significantly enhance a business’s ESG performance by enabling real-time monitoring and automated optimisation of energy usage. These systems generate detailed analytics and reports, facilitating compliance with energy regulations and supporting certifications like LEED and BREEAM. They help businesses track and reduce their carbon footprint, offering reports for stakeholders and verifying energy savings.

    Other examples include the use of motion sensors for lighting, heating and cooling systems, ensuring that energy isn’t wasted when spaces aren’t being used.

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  • Improving waste management and resource planning

    IoT devices and smart sensors can also be utilised to efficiently manage resources such as water, paper and waste.

    You might think your business already uses resources sparingly. However, to give you one example, it’s estimated that the average water consumption in office buildings is 50 litres per employee, per day. That’s used for flushing, washing, cleaning and in canteens, providing plenty of scope for improvement.

    These technologies enable real-time tracking of resource usage and waste levels, optimising consumption and collection schedules to minimise waste and reduce environmental impact.

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  • Enhancing employee wellbeing and productivity

    PwC highlights how the social (S) element of ESG has often played a secondary role to environmental and governance factors. Workplace technology can address this, helping organisations create a healthier work environment. This includes:

    • Smart booking systems, giving employees more flexibility, enhancing collaboration and improving their work-life balance.
    • Air quality sensors can be used to monitor and improve air quality throughout your office space.
    • Wellness apps can track overall wellness, identifying areas where improvement is needed and highlighting employee concerns.
    • Productivity tools facilitate seamless collaboration and efficient workflow management, ensuring that employees can work effectively and comfortably.
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  • Building a sustainable workplace

    Sustainable workplace technology is a core component of sustainable office design. It can improve ESG initiatives, give businesses a competitive advantage and even save money. That’s achieved by making offices more energy efficient, optimising their use of resources to minimise waste and enhancing employee wellbeing and productivity.

    With an increasing focus on CSR and ESG objectives, it will become more important to embrace the future of sustainable workspaces that serve both people and the planet.

  • Listen to Vanessa Lopez, Oktra’s Head of Sustainability and Compliance, discuss the role of sustainability within office design.

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