To go as green as possible, sustainability needs to be considered from the beginning and incorporated strategically.
You also stand a greater chance of achieving a sustainability win if you’re relocating offices. Energy efficiency performance should be a factor to consider when choosing your new office building and a keen landlord should supply you with energy usage data.
Let’s assume that, whether you’re fitting out your current office or moving to a new business premises, there’s room for improvement. Depending on your fit out budget, there are all sorts of ways you can influence environmental performance, from added insulation to the inside of external walls, to designing the office layout to maximise solar gain and reduce dependency on artificial lighting. You can make sure you have natural ventilation rather than expensive, energy eating air conditioning. Even having adequate bicycle storage plays its part in supporting a green travel policy that cuts fuel emissions and costs. It’s essential that you choose a fit out partner with an ambitious sustainability policy and an understanding of passive sustainability measures.
A PIR sensor controlling the lights is the perfect example of green technology that can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint – but there are implications. You don’t want employees having to leap around the room to reactivate the lights because everyone’s so hard at work that the technology thinks you’ve all clocked off early. Neither do you want to be in a toilet cubicle when everything goes perilously dark. Real life usability has to feature in sustainable design or your office refurbishment will frustrate, rather than fulfil your goals. Across the board, from lighting control to water reduction to every aspect of M&E, there are ways of trimming away at the excess. Hence, usage of eco-friendly LED lighting and harmless eco-friendly furniture is a non-negotiable consideration that must come in to play when designing an office space.
An energy usage audit of your existing office arrangement – a process far less complicated than you might think – provides an accurate way of bench-marking future performance and highlighting weaknesses in building, technology and working practices.
If your people care, you’ll get better results and cut costs and carbon emissions. It’s as simple as that, in principle. You need to encourage employees to conserve resources and follow well thought through practices. You also need to consider ways of making it easy for your team to do their bit by incorporating recycling and reuse into the fabric of the office and day-to-day working life. If you can show them the difference they’re making, so much the better.
Those aren’t the only areas where you can make a difference of course. Sourcing your utilities from providers with proven sustainability credentials or asking your fit out contractor for advice on sustainable building finance initiatives means that you can invest in more to deliver a greater return in the long run.
While quick wins are great, it’s important about the long term. If your budget is tight now, scrimp on some technology by all means but don’t close the door to it. Incorporate the potential into your interior design and when the time is right and the money’s available, you can install the more expensive sustainability measures at a later date and begin to reap the rewards.
A sustainable office design is not limited to only saving energy and natural resources, it needs to also successfully enhance wellbeing in the workplace. The focus around wellbeing has already become a natural addition to any forward-thinking office design. With accreditations such as WELL Building and Fitwel becoming ever so influential, workplaces are constantly aspiring to enhance employee wellness.
By getting expert input when you’re first thinking about redesigning or moving office, you’ll be amazed at just how sustainable your workplace could become.