Workspace

5 ways to outfit your office more sustainably

Axiom Workplaces

The ROI of going green is now well established. Green buildings and sustainable businesses are seeing measurable benefits across a range of areas, including:

  • Increased productivity: A study of workers in certified green buildings found they had 25% higher cognitive function scores, 6% higher sleep scores and were happier than their counterparts in non-certified buildings.
  • Healthier employees: The same study also found these workers report 30% fewer “sick building syndrome”, such as headaches and eye and respiratory irritation.
  • Higher attraction and reduced attrition of employees: According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Reputation Study, 86% of respondents said it was important that the company they work for behaves in a socially responsible way. Another study by Lightspeed found that nearly 10% of millennials said they would quit their jobs if they found their current employer was not sustainable.
  • Increased revenue: One study found that improved ventilation, one of the key features of green buildings, produced productivity benefits of $6500 per person per year.

Using design elements to make your workplace greener may be simpler than you think. If your office is due for a revamp, consider using the opportunity to make your business more eco-friendly.

For a bit of inspiration, here are 5 simple ways to make your office space more sustainable.

1. Encourage recycling

Recycling is one of the easiest ways to make your office more environmentally friendly, and you can make it even easier for employees by factoring it into your workplace design.

Think about it: if the only recycling bin was located on the other side of the office, would you make that trip every time you needed to recycle something? Probably not.

Ensure there are an adequate number of recycling bins are set up within easy reach around the office, being mindful of where they are placed (in the kitchen and next to photocopiers, for example).

Include dedicated bins for glass, paper and plastics if your building collects these separately. You may also want to add a collection point where used but reusable stationery can be deposited, which can help save things like pens, notebooks, clips, ring binders and so on from going to a landfill unnecessarily.

2. Add more greenery

Adding some greenery to your office can do more than brighten up your office interior design.
One researcher found that found that simply viewing a green roof from the workplace led to 50% better concentration and problem-solving, and feelings of calm wellbeing and hope.

Plants also emit oxygen and reduce air pollution, making the air in your workplace cleaner and healthier to breathe. It can also reduce noise pollution, which is particularly important in an open-plan workplace.

Try to use pot plants evenly around the office, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of nature.

3. Use sustainable methods of controlling the office’s climate

Your office’s air conditioning system is likely one of the biggest sources of energy use, so finding sustainable ways to moderate the climate can result in big savings. By making smart design choices, you could drastically reduce your need for air-conditioning, and by extension your energy bill.

White Collar Factory in London, for example, uses chilled water circulated through pipes embedded in concrete slabs to help keep the office cool.

Exposed concrete walls can also help moderate the temperature in the office, as concrete absorbs and releases heat, again reducing the need for mechanical air-conditioning.

Even simple things like installing blinds or using insulated glass on windows can make a significant difference to the office climate.

Giving employees more control over their own environment can also save lots of energy – one company we worked with installed an individual control panel at each employee workstation, to let them control their own lighting and temperature.

They reduced their energy bills by 40%, and the technology paid for itself in less than a year.

4. Use energy-efficient lighting and make use of natural light where possible

Artificial lighting is responsible for between 10–20% of a building’s energy use, so switching to LED lights, which are the most energy-efficient lights available, can have a marked effect on your bottom line.

Sensors can also be installed in low-use areas, such as bathrooms and storage rooms, to ensure lights are only switched on when they are needed.

You could also design your office in a way that makes better use of natural light, such as using light reflective colours on the walls or installing larger windows.

One Central Park, for example, has a cantilevered heliostat, which uses motorised mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a cantilever, which in turn distributes the light throughout the building.

This can have benefits beyond just saving money – there is some evidence to suggest that buildings with more daylight promote better sleep and more productivity in its occupants.

5. Use fittings to encourage sustainable behaviour

Just as thoughtfully placed recycling bins can help encourage workers to recycle more, fittings and design choices can help to incite positive behaviour.

For example, you could install bike racks or have carpool or car-sharing parking spots, which will encourage workers to use more sustainable ways of commuting to work.

Want more sustainable design ideas? We have a ton of experience helping our clients make their office spaces more eco-friendly. Contact us today to find out how we can help you!

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