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  • It’s Easy Being Green: Why You Should Work in a Green Office

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  • In the middle of a global climate crisis, promoting sustainable spaces is more important than ever before. But eco-friendly workspaces don’t just benefit the environment, they benefit the people in them.

    A UN report issued on September 25th 2019 cautions that if our current trajectory continues, sea levels will be rising four times faster by 2100, a date that may seem distant but lies in the tangible lifetime of many people alive today.

    “It doesn’t take a big rise in sea level to lead to catastrophic problems,” says co-author Bruce Galvovic. “Sea-level rise is not a slow onset problem – it’s a crisis of extreme weather events.”

    With all the changes we have seen impacting our environment, businesses are embracing the shift towards sustainable design and procurement processes to make their offices greener. There are plenty of ways to design a sustainable office and companies are seeing the benefits of these spaces in their people. Here are our reasons for why you should work in a green office and how that can benefit your business.

  • What is a green office?

    A green office refers to how sustainable it is, but this goes beyond just recycling the waste in the tea point. Sustainability and green design have moved on considerably in recent years and now companies are looking at the environmental impact of their workplaces.

    As more companies move towards carbon net-zero and lowering their emissions, the design process and the elements within offices are being considered more closely.

    It is becoming more common for furniture and other products to be certified and the associated carbon footprint of those products is also being assessed. These are the types of changes we are seeing as companies seek to become truly green, and not just greenwash their clients, staff and investors.

    Alongside these sustainable changes, office plants have become a staple for many businesses due to the positive impact they are shown to have on productivity and mental wellbeing.

    Download our Green Office Design Infographic.

  • Sustainability and biophilic design

    The sustainability of a building depends on its incorporation of energy-saving elements like smart lighting systems and HVAC technologies, to render the building as energy-efficient and low-emission as possible. The use of recycled and reused materials in a building’s design is also a contributing factor.

    Many new buildings are adopting more rigorous environmental certifications, making them comparatively energy efficient from the start. A building’s EPC score is a good indicator of its efficiency level, while certifications like ISO 14001 verify the level of environmental consideration of the companies that build and fit out those buildings.
    Biophilic design is the incorporation of natural materials and elements into the built environment, bringing the outside world inside.

    Human beings have an innate need for exposure to nature, and the incorporation of natural light, vegetation and raw materials in a space promotes the wellbeing of the people in that space. But biophilia spans far beyond live plant walls and indoor trees, encompassing elements like sound, airflow and circadian rhythms.

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  • What are the benefits of working in a green office?

    Workplace design has moved towards improved wellbeing and mental health in recent years but there is now a greater demand for sustainable environments. Unily’s 2020 Future of the Sustainable Workplace report shows that of the 2,000 office workers surveyed, 65% were more likely to work for a company with a strong environmental policy. This shows that sustainability is now playing a role in talent attraction and retention so companies have to increase their attention on sustainable practices.

  • In the short term – positive marketing, attracting and retaining talent and innovation as it requires to review and improve your processes and work in a more effective and sustainable way. In the long term – businesses that are not thinking about how to create sustainable business practises will no longer exist so thinking of this now will future proof your business and ensure it can keep running in a changing world.”

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  • Office design still has a large part to play in making the workplace a destination that supports and enriches staff. But what exactly are the benefits of working in a green office? These are the three key benefits that companies can expect to see by making more environmentally-friendly decisions.

  • Improved health and wellbeing

    Research shows that biophilic design has restorative power and that hospital patients can recover faster when they can see natural scenery. The same applies to workplaces, and spaces with biophilic elements present see that employees can be up to 20% more productive and even take fewer sick days.

    A study conducted at Washington State University revealed that incorporating plants in office spaces can reduce dust levels by as much as 20%, as the plants remove particulate matter from the indoor environment. Office flora can also help bolster humidity levels to the 30% – 60% range required for human health. As Human Spaces explains, “…designs that incorporate ecological aspects minimize stress levels, reduce mental fatigue and elevate mood.”

    We have seen the positive impact of biophilia with many of our clients which has been added to their offices to help improve wellbeing. When we designed the new London office for Investigo, we installed two moss walls into their reception. These biophilic walls are the first thing you see as you enter the space, acting as an uplifting and calming feature as you walk in.

  • Increased productivity levels

    Research led by the University of Exeter found that the introduction of plants to lean office environments resulted in a 15% increase in productivity. Researcher Dr Chris Knight explained in an interview with the Guardian, “if you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better.”

    Exposure to natural light is also linked to increased productivity, as found in a study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Similar findings occurred throughout The Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function study, where improved indoor environmental quality doubled subjects’ cognitive function.

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  • Environmental impact

    Sustainable building design is poised to significantly reduce global emissions, as the buildings sector is responsible for around 39% of all energy-related CO2 emissions and 36% of final energy use. Buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of all solid waste generation in developed countries, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

    Buildings are responsible for such a large amount of the world’s emissions, seemingly small changes to building design can make a huge impact. Implementing energy-efficient systems as well as adopting environmentally-minded company culture, can eliminate waste, conserve resources and even save a lot of money – the United States Energy Department suggests that sustainable building design can cut yearly energy expenditure by 50%.

    UN Environment quoted the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Dr Fatih Birol, in a press release stating that “buildings are a key driver of energy demand…. If we don’t make buildings more efficient, their rising energy use will impact us all, whether it be through access to affordable energy services, poor air quality or higher energy bills.”

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  • Spotlight on: Gymshark

  • We worked with fitness apparel brand Gymshark to find sustainable solutions for their HQ in Solihull. Their focus was on creating an environment that would help cut emissions and optimise the performance of their environment.

    The solution was to install a smart lighting system, which was the first Human Centric smart lighting system installed in a UK office. Their office is filled with natural light, plants and sustainable materials but the addition of this circadian lighting system helped to improve energy efficiency within the property, which also benefitted staff mood and productivity levels.

  • How can you make your office more sustainable?

    Sustainable office design involves much more than bringing natural elements into the office and with the increase in demand for sustainability accreditations such as WELL and LEED, companies are now occupying more sustainable buildings than ever before.

    There are lots of ways to design a sustainable office, but it largely revolves around what each business is looking to achieve from a sustainability point of view. It operates like a scale, as some things are more straightforward to do, and some that need to be considered a long time in advance before your project even starts.

    Designers will be able to specify certain products to help achieve carbon targets and find opportunities to make sure you do everything you can to make your workspace green. Read our article for more information on how to design a sustainable office.

  • Working in a green office will have a positive impact on your people and your business. There is a strong link between productivity, wellbeing and sustainability that is shaping workplaces and business decisions so it is important to understand how your business could benefit from a green office.

    Get in touch with an expert to discuss how you could make your office more sustainable.

  • Futureproofing Your Commercial Assets with Connectivity and Sustainability Guide

    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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