by Charlotte Gurney
A more sustainable, low-carbon way of living is becoming a key goal on a global level today. From government commitments on net-zero targets to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there are initiatives in place on a global level to make our lives less impactful on the planet. Every business has a role to play in this - and there are many benefits to investing in building a more sustainable workplace.
It’s not just about the environment…
While better environmental outcomes are the key driver there are also many sound commercial reasons for any business to focus on creating a more sustainable workplace. Energy, for example, is one of the biggest controllable overheads in an office environment - using less energy means more cost savings too. In fact, one company focused on making improvements in energy use and waste management, achieving savings of £50,000 in the process.
And it’s not just about the money…
Studies have also now begun to establish that more sustainable workplaces can be healthier and happier environments for employees. For example, many sustainably designed workplaces make better use of natural light - one Cornell University study identified an 84% drop in problems such as eye strain, blurred vision and headaches where offices had more natural daylight. Many employees have moral concerns around climate change and are reassured by working for an employer taking steps to tackle it at their own level. Plus, talented people are likely to be much more attracted to organizations where there are sustainability measures in place.
How to build a sustainable workplace…
There are two options for most enterprises: start from scratch with green design or upgrade an existing environment. Green building design can make a big difference to how sustainable a workplace is going forward, simply by integrating key changes, such as rainwater recycling, producing energy through solar panels and ground source heat pumps or key design features, such as a roof that lets in as much natural light as possible. A brand-new building can be designed to accommodate recycling systems that allow for up to 85% of building waste to be recycled and using sustainable technology to improve eco credentials. But what if you don’t have the resources for new building design?
Taking steps to make any business greener
There are changes that any organization can make when it comes to building a more sustainable workplace, including:
● Install sensors that detect humidity, heat, light etc. and allow resources to be used more efficiently.
● Identify potential upgrades to meet minimum environmental standards and negotiate with commercial property owners (where appropriate) - where there is no scope for negotiation, consider a move to a greener office environment.
● Upgrade existing recycling efforts and change the products purchased for the workplace so that waste generated is more recyclable.
● Encourage buy-in at all levels and get staff to take responsibility for sustainable choices on an individual and office-wide level.
Building a sustainable workplace is possible for any business today - and a vital initiative that needs to be on every agenda.