The Environmentally Friendly Office
Sustainability is crucial in the modern office. It has a major impact on the carbon footprint and environmental impact of your company. It also impacts your ability to attract and retain talent, and your staff engagement.
One of the major areas of emissions for your company is real estate, and this includes your office. The materials and features throughout your office had an environmental impact to produce. The energy your office uses on a daily basis adds to this.
In this article, we’ll go through the top 5 ways you can improve the sustainability of your office, from layout to lighting. By the end, you’ll be able to take meaningful steps to improve the sustainability of your office and company.
It may not be immediately obvious, but the layout of your space has a major impact on your office’s sustainability. If your layout is inefficient or there are large areas of unused space, you’ve got a bigger office than you need. This means you’ve got a bigger carbon footprint than you need. Most companies have 30-40% more real estate than they need. The most common ways space is wasted in offices include too many executive offices and meeting rooms, as well as large desking areas.
To resolve this, study your office to see what areas are used how much and when. You could even install an occupancy tracking system to do this automatically. Once you have this data, you could work with a design & build company to assess how you could make your office more efficient.
Many offices have outdated or poor-quality lighting systems. These use a lot of energy, provide poor-quality light, and break frequently. Another common issue is an outdated layout that blocks a lot of the natural light, by placing little-used executive office and meeting rooms on the outer edge of the space. This means you need more artificial light throughout the rest of the office.
To resolve this, you can reconfigure your office to ensure the most used areas (eg collaboration spaces) are placed on the outer edge of the office with access to natural light. You should also make sure your lighting system is LED to ensure it is as energy efficient as possible.
Utilities comprise 25% of office operational costs, and 39% of that is due to air conditioning. Most air conditioning systems are designed to last 10-20 years. However, if your system is more than 10 years old, it will be very energy-inefficient compared to a new system. This means your energy costs and carbon footprint will be higher.
To ensure this isn't an issue in your office, speak to your landlord to find out the age and condition of your HVAC system, and how efficient it is. If it is old and/or inefficient, you may want to consider replacing it. Sometimes this is the responsibility of the landlord, though this will depend on your lease contract.
Much like outdated air conditioning, outdated technology is energy inefficient and doesn’t do as good a job. Electrical devices 10-20 years old use 20-40% more energy than their most modern counterparts.
To resolve this, ensure your technology package is up to date. Doing this will have major benefits beyond energy efficiency – it will improve employee job satisfaction and productivity. It’s also crucial to ensure the technology you provide is what your people actually need. Technology that your people don’t need is a waste of resources and company emissions.
Biophilia is the innate connection of people to nature, and this even applies to the office. An office with natural materials and features is much more satisfying and relaxing, as well as healthier. If you don’t have live plants in your office, your air quality will be poor. This means your air conditioning system would use more energy circulating and filtering air.
The simple solution to this is to add plants around your office. This can be anything from adding desk-based succulents to large living walls. You could also add other biophilic materials throughout your office, including wooden flooring and organic furniture upholstery. These are more sustainable as materials.
Improving Your Office Sustainability
Sustainability is a crucial part of a company’s performance. Your office has a role to play in improving this performance. By doing so, you will reduce the environmental impact of your company. You will also reduce the operating costs of your office and improve your staff recruitment and engagement.
Now you know about the 5 top ways to improve your office sustainability and how to apply them in your office, you’re ready to put them into practice at your company. You can take meaningful steps to reduce the carbon footprint of your office. To learn about reducing the environmental impact of an office project, read about the top 4 ways to make your office relocation more sustainable.