The 6 basic elements of a sustainable office
Regardless of the size of your office, there are six fundamental elements to achieving a more sustainable office:
Whether you have fully embraced sustainability as the only way forward or are at least aware that by creating a greener working environment you will be saving on energy costs, striving towards a more sustainable office will help both your employees well being and your company’s finances.
For the majority of businesses, getting an entirely new building designed and built for your offices is out of the questions, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace an eco-friendlier position for your current working environment.
We have taken the six most basic elements of sustainable design to give you some starting points for making your office more environmentally friendly.
6 Ways To Increase Sustainability In Your Office Design
Energy: You are unlikely to have escaped the Government's marketing campaign to get all households to use smart meters. We feel these are a little misleading as it is not the installation of the meter alone that saves you money; by reading the data on the smart meters you are able to see what uses most power and when, with the idea that you then change your power use habits to save energy. In much the same way, we can analyse where we are using most of our energy in our workplace, but of course we are more likely to have restrictions based upon the normal working day. We can however, still educate our employees to turn off lights, or their computers at the end of the day, or close doors to keep the heat in. British Gas has an article on how to reduce the use of energy in the workplace that you may find of interest.
Light: We have written several articles over the years about the importance of getting natural light into the workplace. Not only does this save on your energy bills, as above, it has also demonstrated in a variety of scientific studies to improve the productivity of employees. Where possible your office lighting should be from natural sources as a lack of natural daylight can impact on our ability to think clearly, but if you do need to give your work force artificial light then ideally give them personal control over the strength of that light and energy efficient light systems such as LED lighting and occupancy sensors.
Ventilation: If you have ever been crammed into an inner room for a meeting where there was little of no air circulating, you’ll be familiar with the negative effect this has upon all involved. It goes without saying that we need air, and a badly ventilated environment will curtail productivity and directly affect concentration levels. Adding plants can help to purify the air and if you have the ability, adding living walls or a green roof will further reduce air conditioning and heating costs.
Water: A dripping tap is not only a noise distraction we could all do without whilst concentrating at work, it is also costly: a rate of ten drips per minute wastes three litres of water per day, 90 litres per month and 347 gallons of water per year. In addition to fixing any leaks you may have, installing water-saving devices such as low-flow sensor taps, and low-flush toilets will help your company save on its water usage – and costs.
Furniture: It isn’t often on the top of the list from clients when they ask us to source new office furniture for it to be sustainable, but there are options for greener office furniture. Longevity plays a part in this, the better quality your office chairs the longer they will last and the longer the time before they need replacing. There are office furniture options that incorporate non-toxic, recycled or recyclable materials that are easily maintained and repaired, durable, adaptable, and timeless, ensuring once you have bought them, they will last you.
Materials: Tying in with choosing the right types of furniture, is the choice you make for all other materials in your work place. From paints to work surfaces, partitions to flooring, there are more eco-friendly options out there. A quick look around your average office will amass a long list of toxic chemicals including those found in office equipment such as copiers and printers, cleaning equipment, paints, plastics, foam, and fabrics. Needless to say, if we can eliminate as many of these toxins as possible, we will be benefiting all employees as well as contributing to a greener environment for all.
All business owners have a duty of care to their employees that includes making their work spaces as safe as possible – and we all have a responsibility for preserving our environment for the next generation. Making your office more sustainable is just one tiny step on the road to achieve this globally.