8 tips to making your office more eco-friendly

Often, when you think about going green, the immediate consideration is about reducing your carbon emissions. Other quick thoughts may include riding your bike more, using public transportation, being stricter with your recycling, and so on and so forth. But have you ever thought about making your office eco-friendly? There are so many ways of converting your office in to an environmentally friendly one, and here are some tips to help you along the way.

  1. Print only when you must

This is probably a message that you have seen countless times at the end of nearly every mail. However, most people still print out documents more than they should, even when there is absolutely no need to do so. Your best alternative is to use cloud-based storage as it is very easy to save, share and access files on Google Drive. Keep in mind that this will also make you appear much more tech savvy.

  1. Reducing your power bills

With modern technology, you can now purchase energy-saving gadgets which automatically turn off every time you leave the office. Light controllers and instinctive building management systems simplify this task even more. An extra benefit that comes with reducing energy utilisation is the money you can save on power and electricity bills.

  1. Encouraging a greener lifestyle

You should encourage your workers and colleagues to live an eco-friendly way of life that goes beyond the office. Just like any aspect of life, it is very easy to go green when you incorporate the idea into your life compared to a forced change where you commit one little aspect of your routine to it. While switching to an eco-friendly office setting might appear a big challenge at first, you will soon appreciate how rewarding the process can be, both financially and morally.

  1. Create a sustainability team in the office

A sustainability team can help to create more awareness and accomplish other missions in the quest to developing a green office. The team can take up projects such as designing an eco-friendly office refurbishment, starting or facilitating a more efficient recycling program, or being part of purchasing decisions for energy-efficient appliances and safe cleaning supplies.

  1. Start monthly environmental competitions

Monthly team competitions can be an enjoyable way of combining teamwork with creating an environmentally friendly office. For instance, you can challenge the workforce to go one month without driving to work, with the person who lasts the longest receiving a day off or a similar work based incentive.

  1. Bring a desk plant

If you can, conduct some natural office refurbishment and bring a plant into the office to enhance indoor air quality in the office space. Plants can produce more oxygen which offsets any chemicals emitted by new office furniture, making a safer and happier office space for your employees to work in.

  1. Utilise natural light

It is a well-known fact that employees who sit near windows have a higher work rate than those who don’t. Natural light controls your body’s circadian rhythms, digestion, and absorbing vitamin D. However, indoor light can be a major disruptor. During your office refurbishment, you should make sure that you move workstations to within 25 feet of peripheral walls that have windows.

You should rely more on the natural light to save energy. You can also opt to installing a better power strip in the workstation, swapping lighting equipment with LED light, and using timers and sensors for office lighting. This will help you to reduce the energy used and costs on your utility bills.

  1. Switch to energy-saving computers

Starting with new computers that have the Energy Star label is very important. You should then set them to operate as economically as possible. You can also use power-management options in the operating system of your computer. Set the monitor to turn off in cases of inactivity, and set the desktop systems to hibernate at the end of the day when the employees are gone. Smart power management can single-handedly save a lot of energy in the office which is in line with shifting to an environmentally friendly office.

An environmentally friendly office can help breathe new life in to your business on the inside whilst creating a positive reputation for yourselves on the outside. If you’re serious about creating an eco-friendly office, then these tips can set you up perfectly.

 

Author: Carly Chandra – Business Development Manager at Saracen Interiors in London

Sustainable building: how to make your office work for you

The building you’re working in right now could be making you sick, stressed and less productive than you can be. Through some relatively straightforward design and refit actions you could dramatically increase your performance and that of your colleagues and staff. 

In the UK, we spend, on average, between 80-90% of our time indoors. With around 20 hours per day spent within a building it seems odd, that until recently, limited attention has been given to how the design and layout of buildings impact the people within them. The fact that poor design can reduce enjoyment of spaces seems obvious, but it is only now that the building industry is waking up to how homes, work environments and leisure spaces can be designed to maximise health, well-being and, crucially for businesses, productivity.

This is happening at the same time as many organisations are trying to reduce costs through consolidating office space, increasing occupancy levels, and reducing floor area per employee. Done poorly, this can result in ‘workhouse offices’ full of row upon row of workers in large, noisy, anonymous, open plan spaces. Employees are left unhappy, distracted, unproductive and increasingly likely to get, or call in, sick. If done well, balance can be found between increasing workplace density and staff well-being; delivering buildings that are efficient, healthy and productive.

The results can be staggering. Recent studies have shown that taking account of well-being in office design can result in improved productivity, staff retention, reduced absenteeism, and staff stress levels. With staff salaries and benefits making up 90% of a typical company’s operating costs – these changes can have major positive impacts on the bottom line.

Landlords should also take note – with many reporting increased building value and rent potential from buildings which take account of well-being design features such as:

  • Lighting levels and amount of daylight
  • Thermal comfort – temperature, air speed and humidity
  • Indoor air quality and ventilation rates
  • Noise and acoustics
  • Access to windows and views
  • Visual comfort – colour, texture, and variety in space design
  • Access to amenities

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has produced a report looking at the business value of delivering healthy, green buildings. Reviewing studies from across the world, reported benefits include:

  • 101% increase in cognitive performance for workers in a green, well-ventilated office
  • Workers in offices near windows reported getting 46 minutes more sleep per night
  • 4-6% fall in staff performance when offices are too hot or cold
  • 5% variance in sick leave between two offices – one with higher levels of daylight and access to views through windows

With figures like that, Finance Directors, Human Resources and Estate Managers should all pay attention. As the WorldGBC states, “a better understanding of how buildings impact people should drive improvements in the workspace, which may be one of the most important business decisions to be made”.

To date, most attention on healthy buildings has been on new build and major refurbishment projects. This is not surprising since this is the time when large scale changes to office design can be made. Staff are also more open to new set-ups when they are entering a new office environment or one which has undergone wholescale change.

There are existing building performance assessment methods and standards (such as BREEAM, LEED and the Well Building Standard) which already incorporate some well-being aspects, and are available to organisations undergoing such large-scale projects. However, this focus risks ignoring the vast number of existing offices which are not due a refit, or where budget does not allow such investment. Even in these circumstances there is much that can be done and we are increasingly being asked by clients to include well-being assessments and recommendations into our energy audit work. The cost of doing so is low compared to the potentially very high payoffs.

For me, using a wider definition of sustainable buildings to not only include energy and resource efficiency, but also direct and indirect impacts on health and well-being is an obvious progression. It mirrors our desire to support clients to move away from a negative approach to sustainability – using less, turning down, telling off – to a positive view of how sustainability can enhance our lives and help individuals and businesses perform better.

Find out if your buildings have the power to improve your environment and make you healthier, calmer and more efficient. Make sustainability work for you.