Why should you design an office space which balances sustainability and wellness?

Embedding sustainability practices into office design helps landlords and occupiers create a space which has a positive impact on team members and the wider planet. But what does this look like in action?

From a real estate perspective, it’s about putting the human experience at the core of design.

Be kind to your people…

People and their happiness should always be at the heart of office design. Statistics show that employees’ surroundings at work can have a direct impact on their mental health, productivity and concentration levels.

What can be done to achieve this? In our North West office fit-out, we’ve incorporated features like a Naava green wall, which will maintain optimum air quality; research shows that incorporating biophilic design elements reduces stress levels and improves concentration, as well as contributing to the overall beauty of a space.

Tech can play a crucial role in achieving the ideal office environment, as many landlords and occupiers have begun to realise. Historically, this may have meant having the latest IT equipment or high-definition video conferencing – but the advent of ‘smart buildings’ is seeing many designers opting to include things like tuneable circadian lighting, which gives employees the right level of lighting throughout the day and supports the body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Some office buildings are also bringing in wearable tech to track how teams use space, so that the set-up can be adjusted and can evolve with the needs of the people who are using it. Reconfiguring space like this is becoming more and more commonplace, as businesses move away from the idea that workplaces are fixed entities. 

Offices should be built around the human experience, starting from the premise of how you can design it to best suit your staff.

A circular economy world

A recent report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an environmental charity, found that 40% of carbon reduction targets could be met through a circular economy – a system in which nothing is thrown away.

In a circular economy, priority is given to products made with materials that can be ‘upcycled’, i.e. removed and repurposed elsewhere. Recycling materials is viewed as a last resort rather than the first port of call, only taking place if materials can’t be repaired and reused on other products.

Naturally, this leads to less waste – an important factor, when considering that £15bn of waste is produced by office buildings in the UK each year. Prevention is better than cure.

If needed, new items should be purchased from circular economy suppliers – such as

Rype Office, which has saved 1,036 tonnes of C02 emissions to date through remanufacturing used furniture and creating new furniture from waste.

…and kind to our planet

Mayor Andy Burnham unveiled his vision for a zero net carbon Greater Manchester by 2038, calling on businesses and individuals to pull together as one city region to make sustainability top of the agenda.

 The real estate industry is one of the world’s most polluting sectors, responsible for more than 20% of carbon emissions. Embedding eco-design and end-of-life management principles into the design and procurement process is a proactive way to help limit our collective environmental footprint. 

Providing staff with a healthy and balanced working environment goes hand-in-hand with creating a space engineered to have minimal impact on the wider planet. Considering both as a priority when undertaking a big project, such as designing a new office space like our North West office, will not only help to keep businesses relevant, but will have a tangible impact on talent attraction and retention – as a move towards a kinder, more sustainable world becomes the norm. 

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