A sustainable office is an eco-friendly workplace that has been designed and built using materials and practices that aim to reduce the negative environmental impact of the business. A sustainable office will also consider the health and well-being of employees when designing the space. When it comes to sustainable office designs, there’s not one right way to do it. It really depends on the specific needs of your business and employees.
You’ll find that more and more companies are starting to consider the environmental impact of their organisation with the aim to be sustainable. To achieve this in our ever-changing climate, you can easily start with the work environment itself. In this article, we’ll identify some tips when planning a sustainable office design.
Why implement new office sustainability ideas
There are many reasons why you might want to consider making your office more sustainable. The obvious reason being is that it’s good for the environment. Sustainability practices can help reduce your business’s carbon footprint and lower your overall environmental impact. Consequently, sustainable offices often cost less to operate than traditional offices. According to the Journal of Business Ethics, during the 2008 recession, companies that maintained sustainable office initiatives recorded better average turnover, than those that did not. Now it is clear that using less energy can save money but what about the impact on employees? A truly sustainable office design should take into account the health and well-being of employees. Therefore, a sustainable office design also has the benefit of creating a supportive and healthy working environment that promotes retention and productivity.
Planning for a more green office
So what steps can you take to make your office more sustainable? The first step is evaluating your current office space and determining what sustainable office design solutions would work best for your business. This can be done by conducting an energy audit which will help you to understand where your company stands in terms of energy use. From there, you can make recommendations on how to improve efficiency and decrease energy consumption.
Measures you can take to design a sustainable office
In terms of the actual office environment design, there are a few key features to consider that can make your space more sustainable.
1. Emphasise natural light
A sustainable office makes the most of its natural resources. One way to reduce energy consumption is by making use of as much natural light as possible. Now we know there’s not much you can do about existing windows. In most instances, it’s not feasible to remove an entire window and reposition it. You can, however, incorporate features such as light shelves or daylight redirection film which will help to reflect light deeper into the space and use lighter colours on the walls to further brighten up the space. This can also reduce the need for artificial lighting, or allow for lower numbers or brightness of lighting to be needed, lowering energy costs. If your windows are old and in need of replacement, why not consider double glazing? Double-glazed windows have two panes of glass separated by a spacer. This design provides greater insulation, reduces noise and can reduce the need for additional heating or cooling.
2. Choose energy-efficient lighting
Incandescent lighting should be avoided where possible as they are very inefficient and consume much more power. Instead, focus on using energy-efficient lighting options such as LED bulbs or CFL bulbs. LED bulbs have proven to use 75% less energy than traditional halogens. Plus, did you know they also last up to 10 times longer? Not only requiring less long-term maintenance but also keeping future costs down.
3. Install solar window film
When looking to improve energy-efficient in the office, it is important to think about your cooling costs in the warmer months. A comfortable office temperature is vital for keeping your employees happy and productive. So how can you save on your cooling bills? Solar window film is the answer. Solar window film helps to keep heat out during the summer, making your space more comfortable, and, saving on energy costs due to decreased reliance on air conditioning use.
4. Use energy-efficient appliances
If your office space is in need of an update, consider investing in energy-efficient appliances. Chances are those ancient appliances that came with the building probably aren’t the most energy-efficient. Newer models use less water and electricity, which can save you money in the long run. These include items such as energy-efficient refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee machines. Not only will you be saving money on your energy bill, but you will also be doing your part to help the environment.
5. Choose furniture made from sustainable materials
When furnishing your office, choose furniture that is made from sustainable materials. This includes items such as bamboo desks, recycled plastic chairs, and cork boards. Not only will you be helping the environment by using sustainable materials, but you will also be creating a more stylish and unique space. However, these items of furniture can be hard to find. When looking for sustainable office furniture, also consider going second-hand. You can find some great deals on used furniture and reduce landfill, while still being eco-friendly.
6. Bring in the outside in
Another great way to make your office more environmentally sustainable is to bring the outside in and introduce some greenery. Plants help to improve air quality in the office. They can also help to boost your mood and productivity. If you don’t have a green thumb, consider getting some low-maintenance plants such as succulents or cacti. Or you can even hire from a plant rental service, in which the ongoing maintenance is generally included in the rental cost.
7. Utilise renewable energy sources
If you own your office building, another way you can make your office more sustainable is to utilise renewable energy sources. For example, installing solar panels. In Australia, we are lucky to enjoy sunny weather nearly all year round. Solar panels are a great way to make the most of those hot days, reduce your company’s carbon footprint and save money on energy costs. You may also be eligible for the government’s rebate on renewable power, helping you further break down costs.
8. Reduce paper usage
Your office is likely to have more paper waste than you think. Paper towels, printed emails, and meeting minutes all add up. When creating a sustainable office, consider simple practices to reduce your paper usage. These include installing hand dryers in the bathrooms, encouraging using failed print jobs as recycled paper where necessary, setting printers to double-sided printing as the default and keeping more recycling bins around the office to encourage employees to use them.
9. Invest in a high-quality coffee machine
Who doesn’t love their morning coffee? Australians throw out 2.7 million disposable coffee cups each day. If you want to reduce your office’s environmental impact, invest in a quality coffee machine. This will help reduce the number of single-use cups purchased each day from the local coffee shop. By investing in a machine of comparable quality, your staff will less likely feel inclined to buy coffee and more likely to make their own with reusable mugs.
10. Choose laptops over desktops
Laptops use less energy than desktop computers, which means they have a smaller environmental impact. Many workplaces are now allowing their employees to work from home for part of the week. Having laptops as the primary device means you don’t have to buy both devices for your staff. Not only is this more sustainable, but it also reduces expenditure on office supplies.
Learn more about solar or light redirection window film for office sustainability
There are many ways you can make your office more sustainable. By following some of the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to reaping all the rewards that come with having a green office. Plus, with the correct sustainable practices in place, you’ll make incorporating sustainability into daily life effortless. The team at Complete Film Solutions has worked with businesses across Western Australia to install solar window film to reduce energy consumption. If you’re looking to save energy and create a more sustainable office, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our team to discuss the right solution for your needs.