With countries around the globe gearing up for the COP26 conference, more people than ever before are talking about climate change and sustainability. In this blog post, we look at why sustainability in office design is important. We also share our tips for reducing your office’s carbon footprint
What is climate change?
First, a quick recap. Climate change is the long-term rising of global temperatures. Our planet is getting hotter and every bit of warming in the atmosphere increases the risk of extreme weather. You might have noticed lots more news reports about storms, heatwaves and flooding in recent years. The frequency and severity of these events are increasing. This is largely down to climate change.
The main cause of climate change is burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. When fossil fuels burn, they release carbon dioxide into the air causing the planet to heat up. Carbon dioxide can be absorbed by trees and plants, so deforestation and the urbanisation of our green spaces has also had a big impact.
How do offices contribute to climate change?
Sadly, offices can be big polluters. How they’re built, how we use them, and where they’re located can all affect a building’s carbon footprint.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for a whopping 36% of global energy use. Some of this is from day-to-day energy use such as lighting, heating and cooling. The rest is from the amount of carbon generated in the construction process. For example, manufacturing building materials and transporting materials to construction sites.
How can we lower our office’s carbon footprint?
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to make your office more sustainable. We’ll take a look at a few of these below:
If you’re planning a new office build, you’ll definitely want to think about the materials and construction methods you use. Natural or recycled materials are much better for the environment and there are lots of innovations out there. Hempcrete for example, is a plant-based, environmentally friendly alternative to concrete that is now being used across the UK.
Heating, lights and appliances burn through fossil fuel. Using less energy or switching to greener alternatives is a great first step. Many people think that you can’t do this in old buildings but that’s not the case. A clever office fitout can help to introduce green energy into most buildings. Energy efficient appliances, smart lighting systems and even features such as rainwater harvesting are great ways to reduce your office’s carbon footprint.
The materials in plastic are made from fossil fuels and most plastic ends up in landfill. With that in mind it’s easy to see why it’s such a big contributor to climate change. You could help tackle the issue by introducing robust recycling facilities in your office or by going plastic-free where you can. Simple swaps like providing ceramic coffee mugs in the place of plastic ones really make a difference.
The first step in reducing your carbon footprint is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere. The next step is to absorb any remaining emissions. Nature is a great absorber of carbon dioxide making biophilic design a must have in any office. Why not introduce living plants into your office space or consider creating an outdoor area with lots of greenery if you have the space.
Who is doing sustainable office design well?
The most sustainable office in the world is thought to be Bloomberg’s headquarters in London. With its water conservation system and natural ventilation, it was rated as ‘outstanding’ against the BREEAM sustainability assessment in 2017.
There are lots of other great examples of sustainable office design out there, including some of the projects we’ve worked on ourselves. If saving the planet wasn’t a big enough incentive, our office fitouts are typically more energy efficient too which means greater cost savings!
If you’d like to discuss how we can help you to reduce the carbon footprint of your office get in touch.