Sustainable office interiors use less energy and will save you money, reducing your energy bills by between 25 and 30% on a yearly basis. Also, working in a healthy, natural environment has also been proven to raise productivity and lower absenteeism in the workforce and anything you can do to enhance your image of corporate social responsibility will deliver a strong “feel good” message to your staff, shareholders and clients.
To take full advantage of this win/win scenario, before the start of your office refurbishment project, you should set out clearly defined, energy saving objectives.
These might be to increase energy efficiency and reduce ongoing costs, to reduce your carbon emissions, to make better use of the space available to you, to boost productivity, to increase your recycling abilities and create a healthier, happier workplace.
When drawing up the plans for your office refurbishment, pay close attention to which areas of your office receive the most natural light and at what times of day, this occurs. This will influence the siting of desks, whiteboards, computer monitors, television screens and OHP’s and could mean that you are able to rely, more on natural light, reducing your dependency on electricity. Check the compass directions of your space. Is it north or south facing? Remember, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so if you have windows facing in either of these directions, you will have a lot more sunshine at your disposal, particularly in the mornings and later, in the evenings. Assess how you can best use this daylight and sunshine, to reduce your lighting demands.
Lighting and heating come under particularly close scrutiny when undertaking a project of this nature. Many “green” improvements can be made to your lighting scheme. Low energy light fittings and job specific task lighting can be used instead of standard spots and fluorescents and motion sensors can be used to automatically turn off lights when not in use. Over time, this will save a fortune as the number of lights that are inadvertently left on in offices overnight is staggering.
This energy saving lighting option can be combined with the installation of a building management system, to enable the monitoring and control of energy use. An automatic shut-off system could be put in place for equipment whilst it’s on standby and the heating should automatically switch off, if a room is left unoccupied for a period of time. Sufficient sub-metering can be put in place to measure and report on the energy use of the building within a given time frame and this should be monitored on a regular basis, to seek out ways in which energy usage can be reduced.
Reducing water wastage is another way in which you can conserve resources and save money. Install low water flow fittings including low flush toilets and waterless urinals. Wherever possible use a rainwater or grey water system, particularly for the irrigation of office building green spaces. Ensure you have a reliable system in place for the detection of leaks. Water companies up and down the country report losing millions of pounds worth of water through leaks, every year, make sure your building is not contributing to the problem. Save money on drinking water too, install point-of-source, u/v filtered water to reduce the cost, waste and transport of bottled water.
Throughout your refurbishment, look at ways of building sustainability into the design. Think about each part of the process to see if there are ways to reduce costs, leakage and the waste of resources. Ensure that you follow environmental best practice throughout your build. Manage all stripped out waste materials properly to ensure that as little as possible, finds its way into landfill. Donate unwanted furniture, computers and appliances to charity. Recycle plasterboard, carpet and all other recyclable materials and follow the proper procedures to dispose of hazardous materials. Put an environmental management system (EMS) in place and keep a paper trail to prove it.