When asked, most business owners would agree that they want their operation to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible, especially with mounting pressure from consumers, employees and shareholders to go green.
However, placing your best intentions aside, one major roadblock in your sustainability journey is your workspace – can your existing space facilitate cleaner options?
While you may think that your green potential is limited, it’s possible to significantly improve the sustainability of your business through office refurbishment. By implementing intelligent design and modern technology you can dramatically improve your energy efficiencies.
In this blog, we explore sustainability solutions for your office redesign or fit out to help you to work towards achieving your green goals.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to office design. Every workspace is different, which is why our design experts have listed 6 potential features modern workspaces use to improve business sustainability to help you make the right decisions for your building.
BMS (Building Management Systems) are an incredibly effective method for energy management.
They are computer-based systems that can be installed in your building to control, monitor and regulate your office’s electrical and mechanical equipment.
A BMS is used to adjust the settings of your lighting, AC units, thermostats, etc. (depending on occupancy), proactively reducing your energy consumption at times when your workspace is least used.
This is especially relevant with the rise and popularity of hybrid and remoting working, which has led to a fluctuating head count in offices. The same levels of energy are not required on a day-to-day basis, meaning that a BMS can effectively reduce your consumption at times where many of your employees are remote.
Perhaps the most easily attainable goal for any industry is designing a workspace that accommodates responsible waste management.
According to the Harvard Business Review, landfill and waste services are leading contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that simple changes, such as making waste separation more accessible to your employees, can make a meaningful difference in the long run.
From a design perspective, waste stations also require the least commitment, because they can be placed anywhere to suit your office layout. It’s an easy change that shows your stakeholders that you’re taking accountability for your waste management.
Electric vehicles (EVs) have become increasingly popular over the last few years.
In fact, EV sales increased by 76% in 2021 and are expected to continue increasing year on year. Chances are, many of your employees are already using EVs, and many more would switch if you provided adequate charging.
Not only is EV charging point installation wise from a sustainability perspective, but it can also help to boost staff retention & willingness to come into the office; it’s often far more convenient for your employees with EVs to drive in, and a charging point allows them the opportunity to do so.
Employees will be happier travelling into work if they know they don’t have to worry about their car battery running out of power on their return journey home!
As you can probably imagine, a whole office refit involves a lot of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, as well as a fair amount of discarded building materials, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to a trip to a landfill.
For example, at Rhino we help to ensure sustainability by assisting our clients with the removal and disposal of their old furniture, as well as managing their recycling during the fit out process.
First, we separate it into materials that can be recycled, such as metal and plasterboard offcuts, and the rest is sent to be processed and chipped, ready to be reused in a multitude of ways, such as biomass fuel.
Any furniture that’s still in good condition will be sent to communities around the world who need it, meaning that there’s as little waste as possible.
Is this process completely green? No, and right now it can’t be, but it’s a step in the right direction, and an important one that we all ought to make.
Another effective way to improve sustainability through design is to maximise the use of natural light.
Through careful consideration and planning, you can effectively create a workspace layout that maximises natural light, reducing your reliance on artificial lighting and cutting costs in the long run.
Encouraging more natural light into your workspace also has the side benefit of boosting employee wellbeing, too, as sunlight helps to release happiness chemicals in our brains!
These standards generally cover where people live and work, and are a reliable rating system for sustainability. They provide guidance on development strategies that minimise construction waste and pollution, reduce CO2 emissions and design in consideration for the environment in areas surrounding your workspace.
The standards measure a wide scope of factors including:
People want to work for companies who are taking action to make their practices more sustainable, so many eco-conscious businesses are making an effort to choose BREEAM certified offices, while simultaneously striving for B Corp.
Below are two examples of distinctly sustainable (and certified) office spaces:
The offices of Barking Riverside Ltd are in a building that is rated BREEAM excellent, meaning that their furnishings needed to be carefully considered to maintain the sustainability theme of the space.
B Corp superstars Gousto have taken steps to ensure that their workspace was as energy efficient as possible (while remaining both comfortable and attractive).
There’s no need to beat around the bush – if you want a more sustainable workplace, then you’ll have to pay a slight premium.
On average, this premium is about 12%.
While we understand that this may be a substantial cost now, it is truly an investment in the future, as:
Sustainability is a tricky subject, we get it. Everyone wants to be sustainable, but it’s not always that simple. At Rhino, we understand the pressure that you’re under to become a more eco-friendly business, and we believe that the best place to start is your workspace.
As part of our corporate sustainability commitments, we’ve partnered with Sustainability West Midlands, a local organisation who have created the West Midlands Net Zero Pledge. We also comply with ISO 14001: Environmental Management; we’re committed to reducing our environmental impact and safeguarding our future.
Our team of workspace sustainability experts are equipped to help any organisation achieve their green goals, and we have a track record of delivering exceptional workspaces that are functional, attractive and sustainable, providing the perfect environment for employee success.
Speak to our team today if you have any questions, or want to find out exactly how a reimagined workspace can dramatically boost your sustainability credentials.
If you have a question, if you are looking for some bespoke advice, get in touch with our experts today, we’d love to hear about your project.
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