Sustainability and Office Design

21 Mar 2014

What is sustainability?
Sustainability is about balancing our consumption, our technology choices and our population numbers in order to live within the resources of the planet. It means maintaining a stable and healthy environment for both humanity and biodiversity.
How does this affect office refurbishment and relocation?
Many companies talk about it, but few actually know what it means or how to be sustainable.  Here are 9 key considerations for creating a sustainable office environment. 
To explain it more clearly, we have split the considerations in two parts. The first 5 relate to the office design phase (before you start fitting or refurbishing); and the last 4 relate to maintaining sustainable environment on day to day basis (after you move into the new/renovated office).    

You are at the office design stage, you need to think about:
1. BREEAM – Select an Energy Efficient Building
BREEAM (BRE – Building Research Establishment EAM - Environmental Assessment Method) is an assessment process which identifies how energy efficient a building is. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation.
2. Ska Rating – Asses the Fit-out
 The Ska Rating is an assessment scheme focusing on the elements of a fit-out and their impact on the environment. It measures issues such as waste, water, pollution, transport, materials, energy and carbon dioxide.
3. Energy Consumption
Consider which items in the work place might use up the most energy (Lighting, Air Conditioning and the IT equipment). By installing certain types of equipment or systems it is possible to lower energy consumption and reduce costs.  
4. Maximise Natural Day Light
Using natural daylight is the best way to illuminate an office (however it is not always possible).  It is essential that the layout and space planning provide for as much natural daylight as possible.
5. Sustainable Materials
The materials used to build or furnish your office space will have an effect on costs and on waste.  Thinking sustainably is about choosing items that are environmentally friendly, biodegradable, recyclable and save energy.  

You are in the newly fitted out office, think about:
6. Awareness
Everyone should be encouraged to take ownership of the environmental aspects of the workplace. Explain to them why it is important that you, as a company, work together to bring the energy costs down. Involve them in the process and make it a joint venture, ask them how they think you could all use less energy.  
7. Recycle  
Recycling is something that almost everyone does at home and most people don’t mind doing at work if the facilities are available.  During your project, think about the process for disposing of items not needed and how packaging is treated. Maintain the recycling efforts after your project has finished by implementing a recycling policy.
8. Maintenance of Equipment
Electrical and IT equipment such as photocopiers, computers, display terminals use a lot of wasted energy. To reduce the amount of wasted energy turn off when not being used and service regularly.
9. Housekeeping
Simple things like turning off lights and closing doors will help sustainability. Checking the temperature on thermostats regularly and servicing the heating and air conditioning system will help reduce costs.