10 tips to improve sustainability in offices

10 tips for sustainability in offices

September 1st, 2022

As the climate crisis worsens, many businesses are realising that they need to play their part in tackling climate change by becoming more sustainable.

Today, customers expect businesses to address their impact on the environment. In fact, 81% of consumers say they choose to buy from organisations with a positive approach to environmental sustainability.

That’s why there’s been a real increase in interest of improving sustainability within offices in recent years, as businesses realise that the office can be a major source of carbon emissions.

WorkPad’s Asset Manager Sabrina Johal says: “As property professionals we should be thinking of new and innovative methods on how we can run our buildings in a sustainable and cost-efficient way.”

So if your organisation wants to be seen as sustainable, here are our top tips for boosting the sustainability of your office:

 

1. Understand your energy usage

Before you can start to improve the sustainability of your office, it’s important to carry out an energy audit to understand how, when and where you’re using energy. This way, you can see where you’re doing well, and identify where you could make changes to become more sustainable.

If you have smart or half-hourly energy meters in your office, you should have detailed data on your energy consumption. Use this information to really get to grips with how your business uses energy on-site.

 

2. Switch to energy efficient lighting

On average, LED lights use around 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last around 30 times longer, which makes switching to LED lighting a really simple way to make your office more sustainable.

As well as boosting the sustainability of your space, switching to LED lighting can also improve your team’s productivity. LED bulbs produce white light, which mimics natural sunlight more closely than traditional incandescent lighting.

 

3. Make use of natural light

Of course, there’s no substitute for natural light – so before you switch to LEDs, it’s worth considering whether you could bring more natural light into your office.

Research has shown that workers rank access to natural light and views of the outdoors as the number one attribute of any office space, yet over a third of workers feel they don’t get enough access to natural light in the office.

This means that by maximising the natural light in your office space, you can reduce the need for artificial light, increasing the sustainability of your office and improving employee experience.

 

 

4. Increase green space

Another simple step businesses are taking to improve sustainability in offices and employee satisfaction is bringing more green space into the office environment.

Some of the world’s leading companies are turning to biophilic design, which means designing their offices to increase their teams’ connectivity to nature. Take Citibank’s Singapore wealth management centre as an example. They have a range of meeting pods set in a 36-foot high atrium filled with tropical plants.

Increasing the green space within your office can help you to improve its sustainability, as plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. More greenery can also improve your employees’ cognitive function by up to 26% and reduce sickness-related absenteeism by 30% – get some ideas for how to get started in our blog.

 

5. Adjust your heating

When your whole team came into the office every day, you probably needed to heat – or cool – every area within your space throughout the working week. But if you’ve adopted a hybrid working policy, you should have a smaller team on-site at any one time.

So take a look at the settings on your thermostat or air-conditioning unit and reset them for your new way of working. If nobody comes in on Fridays or Mondays, for example, make sure you’re not wasting energy on heating or cooling an empty office.

Think about whether your current desk set up means you have to heat more areas than necessary. If you have a couple of employees from each team sitting at desks on different floors, would it make more sense to seat them all together and simply heat the room they’re in?

 

6. Switch to green energy

As well as reducing the amount of energy you use overall, you can become more sustainable by switching to renewable energy.

Whether you’re an owner occupier, or simply an occupier that requires permission from your landlord, you can install solar panels on the roof. By using solar energy to power your business, rather than relying on energy from the grid (which is sourced in part from fossil fuels), you can reduce the impact your business has on the environment.

 

7. Save water on-site

If your business is striving to become more sustainable, you need to minimise the amount of water you’re using in your building.

Thankfully, there are lots of simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of water your team uses. Replacing traditional taps with motion-sensor taps can stop water from being wasted by taps being left on, for example, and installing low-flow toilets can save 6 litres of water per flush (which really adds up over time).

 

8. Reduce waste

You should also think about the amount of waste you send to landfill, and whether you can reduce this by making small changes in your office.

If you don’t already provide separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable waste, placing them throughout your office can encourage your team to recycle. Make sure they’re clearly labelled so everyone’s clear on what to put in each bin.

You may also decide to switch to being a paperless office, which means significantly reducing or eliminating the amount of documents you physically print and store on-site. Instead, you can use tools like Dropbox and Google Drive to create and store digital documents.

 

9. Fit out sustainably

Whether you’re moving to a new office or simply refreshing your existing space, sustainability should be front of mind for your business during any fit out project. For example, sourcing and manufacturing new furniture can have a big impact on the environment, so it’s worth thinking about whether you could refurbish or up-cycle existing furniture instead.

Choose the materials and finishes used in the fit out carefully. You can ensure that timber has been taken from well-managed forests, for example, by choosing timber that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Any finishes used should be low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), as high levels of VOCs contribute to pollution and can reduce indoor air quality for your team.

 

 

10. Make health and wellbeing a priority

While you’re working to improve your building’s sustainability, it’s also important to ensure you’re constantly considering your team’s health and wellbeing. With hybrid working now the norm, it might be worth considering giving employees the opportunity to decide how and where they would like to work. Spending two to three days in the office, with two days at home, is an excellent way to provide flexibility while ensuring your people are still together regularly for face-to-face catch ups and creative sessions.

WorkPad’s Asset Manager Sabrina Johal states added: “As well as improving our buildings sustainably it is also important to be mindful that health and wellbeing is also considered within our buildings, ensuring a comfortable work environment for everyone. It is essential that there is enough flexibility for wellbeing and productivity all year round.”

 

Looking for a more sustainable office?

We know that sustainability in offices is becoming increasingly important for many businesses, so at WorkPad we ensure that all of our offices have an abundance of natural light.

If you’re looking for a more sustainable office, our in-house designers can also help you to create a bespoke biophilic design, source sustainable materials and reuse furniture to ensure your space has minimal impact on the environment and maximises employee health and wellbeing.

To find out more about how we can help you to create a sustainable office, get in touch today.

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