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What is Sustainable Office Design?
  • What is Sustainable Office Design?

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  • Sustainable office design refers to the design and construction of office space with a low carbon impact. Designing a sustainable office can be achieved by using sustainable materials, repurposing and recycling products and managing energy consumption to minimise environmental impact.

    Sustainability has become a popular driver for change across a variety of sectors including FMCG, Fashion and Retail. With people making more conscious decisions in their private lives, companies are doing more than ever to make decisions that are positive for the environment. These changes in the business world are reflected in the rise of sustainability commitments and net zero pledges.

  • Government statistics show that works related to construction, demolition and excavation generated 62% of all the UK’s waste in 2018. This equated to 37.2 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste in England in 2018. With construction being heavily responsible for the creation of waste in the UK, any changes towards a more sustainable process must come from policies and reform. Office design makes up a small portion of the statistics but the focus on sustainable office design and creating green offices is more important than ever.

  • What makes an office sustainable?
  • What makes an office sustainable?

    Many office designs that we have delivered for our clients feature sustainable elements which have achieved sustainable design accreditations. There are best practices to follow that will help to make elements of your office design more sustainable. Common examples include:

    • Energy-efficient LED lighting
    • Specify recycled and natural fabrics
    • Improve air quality with ventilation and filtration systems
    • Use of responsibly sourced, eco-friendly materials
    • Specify FSC certified wood
    • Reuse or reclaim preowned furniture
    • Use low VOC paint
    • Energy-efficient HVAC systems
    • Divert waste from landfill during the construction phase

    It is important to highlight that sustainable design is not just about using recycled materials, there is a bigger picture with multiple elements to be considered. This can relate to the procurement of materials, project lead times and manufacturing processes.

  • What are the benefits of sustainable office design? 

    The benefits of a sustainable office design include talent attraction and retention, contribution to corporate ESG policies and reduced operational costs. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy products from companies that show a commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Going beyond influencing sales decisions, talent attraction and job acceptance rates are also based on a company’s sustainability commitments.

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  • Talent attraction 

    Reports show that 40% of Millennials have taken jobs based on an organisation’s sustainability values and 75% of Millennials would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that focused on sustainability. These figures show that workers are placing immense value on sustainability and want to work in sustainable office buildings. Businesses are using their workplaces as part of their CSR goals to help demonstrate their commitment to being sustainable which is helping them attract the best young talent.

    Meeting ESG goals 

    Businesses are now placing more value on buildings and office space that come with sustainability credentials. Every business will have their own ESG goals and creating an ESG-friendly office will not only provide employees with a best-in-class environment, but it will also help contribute to environmental commitments.

    For companies looking to move into these high-quality properties, their office space will also need to align with the building’s credentials and accreditations. This may mean that low carbon impact materials are preferred, and energy-efficient light and heating solutions will help contribute towards net zero goals and staff wellbeing.

    Reducing operational costs 

    An important principle of sustainable office design is assessing where you can reuse elements of your office instead of purchasing new ones. Boardroom tables and chairs are commonly reused in office design provided they are still in full working order. Reusing furniture is a cost-effective solution which allows businesses to invest their budget into other areas of their office and reduce waste. LED lighting and PIRs are also frequently used in office space to help make the lighting solution more energy efficient.

    Modern buildings now incorporate solar panels and rainwater collection services as part of making the property more sustainable and energy efficient. Using these renewable resources as part of the property is also helping tenants reduce their operational costs.

  • What makes an office building green? 

    The term “green building” refers to a property that has been constructed using sustainable resources and/or energy and is energy-efficient in terms of consumption within the building. Typically, if a building uses eco-friendly materials that have a low carbon impact on the environment, it would be viewed as a green building. However, it is more complex than just material usage as it also looks at energy consumption and the disposal of waste.

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  • Sustainable buildings and green office design have become increasingly popular with tenants as sustainable, energy-efficient property is in high demand. There are numerous accreditations which are used to demonstrate building performance and efficiency. LEED, BREEAM and WELL are some of the most well-known in the UK. Common examples of how what makes an office building green include:

    • Construction using sustainable, recycled or reclaimed materials
    • Efficient use of water, light and heating within the building
    • Air quality, natural light and access to water points
    • How the building supports human health and wellbeing
    • Use of renewable energy for building operations, i.e. solar power
  • What is an EPC Rating?

    An EPC rating is the Energy Performance Certificate for a building. This applies to residential and commercial properties and rates how energy efficient your property is. EPC ratings are an important consideration for landlords in the commercial real estate market as properties will now have to achieve a specific rating before they can be let. Sustainable buildings are in high demand and much of the tenant activity in London and other major cities is for sustainable office buildings.

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  • This is in part down to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations which have been in place since 2018. The regulations which come into effect from April 2023 state that all buildings with existing leases must achieve a minimum EPC rating of E. This means that these standards will help drive change for building efficiency by raising the performance of new and existing properties.

    Workplaces are becoming more sustainability-conscious and leading organisations are investing in low carbon, eco-friendly office environments. Employees are leading the way with their demands for greater access to quality spaces which improve their wellbeing and don’t negatively impact the environment. Office design and commercial property have started to integrate more sustainable practices but there is an important journey ahead if we are to arrive at a more sustainable future.

  • Futureproofing Your Commercial Assets with Connectivity and Sustainability

    For more information about how to sustainability in your workplace, download our Futureproofing and Commercial Assets with Connectivity and Sustainability Guide.

    download now
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  • If you want to know more about sustainable workplaces and achieving sustainability accreditations for your fit out, get in touch with our team.

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