How to Design a Sustainable Office

In today’s business landscape, sustainability is paramount, with companies increasingly recognising its significance. In 2023, 63 per cent of executives agreed that the business case for sustainability is clear, which was triple the percentage of executives in 2022. Business owners are now making a conscious effort to embed more planet-friendly practices into their day-to-day operations and wider strategies, but the physical space they work in is still often overlooked within these plans. However, with the help of an office fit out expert, designing a sustainable office can be easily achieved to significantly boost your eco-credentials.

How to establish sustainable objectives as a business

Your sustainability objectives should be set at the very start of the project before the design phase begins. These goals will not only help to structure the project but also inform your fit out partner, ultimately leading to long-term cost savings.

Many businesses are now including their fit out and property strategy within their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental social governance (ESG) commitments. This means certain processes and products can be considered from the outset to shape the sustainable design.

The benefits of sustainability for your business and workforce

The most obvious benefit of a sustainable office refurbishment is that it will enable your business to meet your ESG goals. Low carbon impact materials, energy efficiency and heating solutions will all bring your business closer to reaching net zero.

By helping the environment, businesses can help their own pockets. Operational costs will be reduced by reusing furniture where possible and reducing energy expenses through the installation of more efficient systems. CAT A fit outs allow us to prioritise carbon neutrality for the property. By delivering schemes with optimised energy efficiency, temperature control and heating systems, businesses can rest assured that their building is not at the detriment of their finances or the environment.

Employees’ expectations are also higher in the era of climate change. In fact, one-third of 18-24-year-olds in the UK reject job offers based on businesses’ sustainability stance. Proof of commitment to sustainability will help with recruitment by attracting the best talent and is essential to align with employee’s, as well as customer’s, values.

EDB’s approach to sustainable design

As a future-focused office fit out expert, sustainability is especially important to us at EDB, and we aim to prioritise this in each part of our four-step approach.

The consultation phase is key before beginning sustainable office design. The first step in our approach will enable us to explore the possibilities in your space to maximise your eco-credentials. We collaborate with our clients to understand their sustainability goals, budget, branding and company ethos, embedding these into the design plan.

Once we have a detailed understanding of your business’ vision for its sustainable office fit out, we can translate this into a reality. We create a design tailored to you and map out timescales that work for your business.

After translating your end goal into a plan for a functional space, we can then begin to design your perfect eco-oriented workspace. We’ll create a plan, followed by a 3D concept of your new office. Together, we’ll make tweaks to ensure every inch of the space is optimised for performance and limitless possibility. 

The final step is to build! Through implementing and managing the process-build and cost-management of your project, we can take the stress out of realising your new dream workspace. If you are relocating your office, selecting a building that is BREEAM or LEED-accredited will put you a step ahead in achieving a sustainable office even before the fit out process. An EPC rating (Energy Performance Certificate) is also an important consideration for a building when requiring a sustainable office.

How to make your office more sustainable

Structural changes to the property in a CAT A fit out or simplistic changes in a CAT B fit out provide an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of a business. The sustainability benefits of a commercial office fit out are numerous. 

Refurbishing an existing space offers the chance to reuse office furniture and reduce the amount of new materials used. Diverting waste from landfills in the process makes for a sustainable office refurbishment.

If you can’t reuse furniture, then opt for responsibly and locally sourced, eco-friendly materials which have a low carbon impact. When creating a sustainable workspace for MCS, every element of the office fit out boasted environmental benefits, from carbon-neutral flooring to responsibly sourced timber. The portable media unit is 99.35 per cent recyclable, and all desks, storage and planter units are made from sustainably sourced materials. The chairs and acoustic booths include recycled materials and are both 100 per cent recyclable.

Energy-efficient lighting is a key consideration in curating a sustainable office fit out. LED lighting exerts up to 75 per cent less energy than a standard lightbulb and reduces eye strain and headaches for employees. A simple switch like lighting can boost productivity and drive a downward surge in energy costs. To maximise lighting efficiency even further, designing the office to enhance natural light will reduce dependency on artificial lighting. Lower energy usage will keep running costs, as well as environmental impact, down.

Increasing the amount of heat that the office can retain will also help decrease energy consumption and expenditure. Added insulation to the inside of external walls or building in thermal windows will keep heat in, to reduce the need for higher energy usage.

More simplistic additions to boosting sustainability in your office include integrating biophilia. The addition of plants will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and improve air quality. Not only will an oasis of plants be beneficial from an eco-friendly perspective, but this will improve the aesthetics of an interior as well as increase employee wellbeing by 47 per cent.

Designing a sustainable office can feel like a daunting task. Many business owners are aware of their sustainability goals but are unsure of how to actively achieve them. Hiring an office fit out specialist can lift the weight off your shoulders and give you a clear path to achieve your environmental goals. Boosting the green credentials of an office involves a holistic approach that integrates environmental responsibility, energy efficiency, resource conservation, and employee wellbeing. Furthermore, undertaking a sustainable office refurbishment might be one of the most effective investments, as it will not only boost eco-credentials, but it will enhance your business’ overall ESG strategy for the long term.

If you need to make your office or workspace more sustainable or are looking to move into a more sustainable space, then contact our experts for advice.

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