It’s 2021 and everyone and their dog wants to do more for the environment. Rightly so. The effects of global warming are a hot topic and so our impact on the planet is more of a focus than ever. Businesses, in particular, have an increasing pressure put on them to ensure they’re showing commitment to sustainability, but how can you consider the environment without compromising on style and fully adopt an eco-friendly office design?
At home, many of us have now adopted a more eco-friendly way of life, from recycling to bike cycling, but we do usually spend a large chunk of our waking lives at work, so it follows that we’d be making changes there too.
This could mean switching to solar power or underfloor heating as part of an office fit-out, or it could be as simple as incentivising staff to waste less paper.
Designed and fitted by Ben Johnson for our client, Mayborn Group
Today we’re looking at what it means to be eco-friendly without sacrificing a stylish and productive work environment. We’re covering some of the ways you might want to consider – some big and some small but not without impact – when creating a workplace that has less of a damaging effect on the environment and, as a perk, could help reduce your company’s outgoings, too.
It’s also worth noting that by increasing environmental awareness in the workplace, you could make your brand stand out for its sustainability in the minds of your customers or investors, and that’s never a bad thing.
‘Net zero’ is the latest buzzword in office interior design when it comes to eco-friendly companies, but the scientists in the know say it’s crucial that we’re thinking about this stuff in order to avoid apocalyptic side-effects.
Put simply, net-zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out. The number of organisations now committing to being net-zero by circa 2030 is impressive, presenting an added challenge for companies across the board, especially those working in the building design, construction and fit-out industry.
To achieve net-zero status, a company must add no greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by cancelling out any human-produced carbon. This does usually require substantial changes, but it can be done! Ashley McGraw Architects and TN Ward Company recently designed and built the first energy-positive building in the Lehigh Valley for the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF). Their net-zero office was finished in 2020 and really sets an ideal for energy-conscious construction using innovative, sustainable solutions.
Impressively, it will generate more than 130% of the energy it needs to run. This is potentially a level of dedication that most companies aren’t in a position to match but it’s certainly inspiring.
A light-filled space with loads of plants for our client, Search Consultancy
Technology is your friend! Alright, maybe not when your WiFi’s down, your Mac’s decided it’s time to do a software update or Zoom has frozen mid-meeting, but in general, when you’re trying to be a bit more eco-conscious, newer tech is likely to use significantly less power than older machines.
We know that forking out for the latest gadget or state-of-the-art computer might not at first glance feel like it’s saving money, but older devices are likely to be using more energy and working noticeably slower than newer models. Upgrading to something a little more efficient may save your staff time overall, while also saving you money on power and tech support when issues inevitably crop up as your machine is on its last legs.
The take-home here is that creating a more eco-friendly office won’t just reduce your carbon footprint, but it could save time and money too. Win-win!
Go green – literally!
‘Green’ living walls are almost becoming a symbol of a modern, environmentally-friendly company. This means installing a wall of vertical plants grown hydroponically and it actually offers a range of benefits, besides their basic aesthetic appeal.
One of several living walls introduced into the office of our client, CPP
Living walls provide natural insulation, improve air quality for space and help with temperature control – which therefore impacts pretty positively on your energy bills. They also have an impact on the mental health of workers due to the plants’ ability to remove carbon dioxide and generate oxygen.
Let there be light
For businesses looking to reduce their energy bills and increase employee wellbeing and productivity, using natural lighting is usually the way to go.
We might consider making the most of this with an open-plan office or expansive windows, though we understand that this isn’t always an option.
You can still have an impact by being clever with your approach to the lighting plan or by doing a quick switch to more energy-efficient bulbs and ensuring they’re turned off when not required.
We know that not using excessive water is a big deal so it’s worth considering steps like replacing older tap fittings with more eco-friendly versions that restrict flow in the office bathrooms and kitchen spaces, whether that’s as part of a bigger office refurbishment or not.
There are many energy-efficient options out there now that don’t compromise on either functionality or aesthetics while saving both water and your money.
Reusing, refurbishing and recycling
How do you feel about getting a bit creative with your office furniture and décor? It can be hugely beneficial, both financially and environmentally, to use existing pieces and spruce them up a bit or adapt their use, or to build fresh but using recycled or refurbished materials.
Tasteful vintage options and reclaimed fabrics can really add some personality to a workplace and complement the overall interior design. Opting for natural and biodegradable materials, like timber, can also be a great choice, as is sourcing multifunctional equipment and furniture.
Natural surfaces and timber details add character and texture to CPP’s office space
Saving the environment may seem like a daunting task but any efforts are worthwhile and, as they say, every little helps.
Whether it’s a move to eco-friendly business cards, paperless documents, a Cycle To Work or Bring Your Own Bottle scheme or going hard on office recycling, it all adds up and starts your employees thinking more eco-consciously.
Beginning to use cool gadgets like Smart Power strips or TerraCycle boxes will immediately cut down on energy usage and waste in your office.
And, if it all seems a bit much, bring in the pros!
We’re used to meeting the demands of our clients, their employees and the ever-changing world around us.
This is the kind of stuff we will walk you through as part of the design and build process, considering all the important points and taking care of the project from start to finish.
If that sounds helpful, just get in touch and we’ll take it from there.