Sustainability is all the rage as we segue to the second half of 2021. The sustainability movement is centered on preserving our living and working spaces for future generations. In short, wasteful ways are being phased out in favor of eco-friendly designs with posterity squarely in mind. Let’s take a look at what goes into the sustainable design process for offices.
Sustainable Does not Mean Inferior
There is a common misconception that sustainability means a lesser quality build will be performed. Though some of the initial sustainable office interior design projects proved somewhat fallible, significant progress is being made in the push to make buildings that do not sabotage our increasingly fragile environment as time progresses. The challenge lies in building sustainable offices and other spaces that exceed or at least meet industry standards for quality and also provide visually pleasing aesthetics. With the proper planning, this goal can be reached at an affordable cost and also within a reasonable amount of time.
Though each sustainable office interior design is unique, the common thread between them is the minimization of waste with an eye on the future. The goal is for the office to be designed in a manner that does not compromise the environment, makes the most of the materials designated for the project and ensures the space functions without flaw for decades to come. A truly sustainable office design process ultimately reduces environmental impact, boosts long-term savings and enhances employee well-being.
Energy Efficient Office Spaces
Offices spaces designed with energy efficiency in mind prove that much more affordable as time progresses. Truly energy efficient workspaces are built with unparalleled attention to detail in terms of the heating and cooling system as well as refrigeration and other energy components. Even subtleties such as the size of the windows and occupancy sensors matter a great deal in the context of sustainable builds. From low-flow faucets to eco-friendly lighting, the overarching office plan and the implementation of energy star appliances, every last detail matters in the quest to build a workspace with a truly sustainable design.
Mind the Materials
Interior designers and builders committed to the ethos of sustainability will use specialized materials when planning and constructing a workspace. Though client input ultimately dictates which materials are used in the space, those cognizant of the push for sustainability will choose materials that stand the test of time without proving wasteful or destructive in the context of the environment.
Every single material used in a sustainable build has an environmental impact. The manufacturing process necessary to create these materials and the manner in which they are eventually disposed of has a significant impact on sustainability. Some materials are particularly resource-intensive to create while others require disposal in a landfill as opposed to being recycled for subsequent use in additional builds or for other purposes.
Material efficiency is particularly important for sustainable office designs. The most sustainable builds are those that rely on materials that are proven to be green, eco-friendly and sustainable across posterity. Both the exterior and interior of the space should be constructed with materials that have a low VOC level or materials made primarily with recycled content.
Water Use in Sustainable Workspaces
Office workers use their fair share of water throughout the day. This is precisely why a truly sustainable office design will plan for efficient water use. The use of electricity must also be maximized in addition to water use. The most sustainable office designs rely on a dual plumbing system that makes it possible to recycle greywater for use in toilets.
Opt for the installation of low-water use toilets along with low-water use faucets and you will have done your part to preserve the integrity of the environment. Such a dual plumbing system is also beneficial in that it has the potential to save your business a considerable amount of money by reducing your water consumption by thousands of gallons of water every single year.
Sustainable Office Design Includes Strategic Lighting
The manner in which a sustainable office is designed determines the subtleties of lighting. The best sustainable office designs make prudent use of natural light. Aside from reducing energy consumption, relying on natural light uplifts employees’ moods. Opt for a sustainable design that decreases the amount of artificial lighting in your building and you will spend that much less on utility bills. You will also find employee morale increases quite significantly.
The use of skylights as well as the addition of extra windows into a sustainable office space allows natural sunlight to move inside, providing much-appreciated illumination. The best office design plans allow for such natural light to move into the entirety of the office rather than just a couple sections of cubicles. Even reducing partitions and adding glass walls helps maximize the amount of natural light that moves into the office.
Above all, the best way to maximize natural light and reduce an office’s reliance on artificial light is to design the workspace with an open office plan highlighted by extra large windows. The open layout ensures ample light can spread through the office, illuminating the entirety of workspaces throughout the space without requiring the use of an abundance of artificial lighting.
Sustainable Building Extends to Insulation
Sustainable building design guidelines are quite detailed, extending all the way to the nuances of the manner in which the building is insulated. Insulating a new office building with the right materials has the potential to boost the space’s energy efficiency by upwards of 40% or more. Insulation must be added beneath exterior cladding. It also makes sense to add materials that already have insulation such as specialized concrete blocks complete with insulative properties.
Interior insulation should also be added below the roof and within walls for optimal sustainability. The best calgary construction builds include a sealing of all gaps near doors and windows to ensure the indoor air is warmed and cooled to the optimal temperature by the HVAC system remains inside the building while the outdoor air stays outside.