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4 key ways to develop a sustainable office interior for the future
Developing A Sustainable Office Interior – The 4 Key Areas
Disturbing images of deforestation and pollution are compelling evidence that as businesses, we need to adopt a greener and more sustainable approach to how we work.
For manufacturers and resellers, this includes designing and sourcing products made from eco-friendly recyclable or sustainable materials and reducing carbon footprint. But even a service-providing organisation with little or no exchange of physical goods can make a difference, and it starts in the office.
Here we show four ways in which the office environment can become as green as the natural environment.
1. Eco-friendly Furniture
Furniture designers are increasingly looking to more sustainable alternatives. For example, bamboo is fast growing and can be harvested after 3-5 years (compare that with 10-20 years for many softwoods). Its complex root structure helps prevent soil erosion and it can be planted densely to maximise yields. It also requires little water, is so hardy that it doesn’t need pesticides or insecticides to protect it, and is an excellent absorber of carbon dioxide and producer of oxygen. Furniture manufacturers such as Frovi have recently exploited the sustainable benefits of bamboo in creating a customisable office storage system from the material. A highly versatile plant, bamboo can be used as a stylish, durable alternative both to timber and fabrics.
Recycle Plastic Waste
While nations are looking at ways of reducing the volume of plastic manufactured, there is still a lot of it in circulation and as we know, it will be with us for a long time yet. But forward-thinking furniture designers such as Vepa and Flokk are innovatively creating furniture made from recycled plastics. While this doesn’t reduce the volume of plastic in use, it removes it from the environment where it can cause harm.
As their demand for office space fluctuates, companies may need more, or different, furniture to fit their needs. Multifunctional, modular office furniture can be reconfigured as demands change, extending the useful life of the furniture and transforming communal areas into flexible working environments. In turn, this can result in greater functionality without requiring extra space and the associated costs of furnishing, lighting and heating a larger area.
Biophilia – “a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature: a desire or tendency to commune with nature” (Merriam Webster) – is gaining in popularity as a way of improving a sense of wellbeing in the office.
Living plants are also known to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, which improves air quality in the office. Regular watering has a positive effect on air humidity depleted by air conditioning and equipment such as computers and printers – a wilting plant is an early indicator that the room is too dry for humans as well as plants!
3. Cutting Waste
As businesses move increasingly to digital marketing and computerised, cloud-based operating systems, the paperless office is becoming a reality of today rather than a vision of the future.
But it is more than just paper that is being saved. Paperless systems need a fraction of the storage space for archived records, eliminate the carbon footprint of producing and distributing printed material and cut the volume of office machinery being produced and eventually finding its way to landfill.
Businesses can also have a beneficial effect on the environment by using internet conferencing such as Zoom to connect with remote workers and customers, and installing water saving technology such as sensor-activated taps in washrooms and on-demand hot taps in place of kettles.
4. Green Energy
Offices designed to reduce their environmental impact now feature energy saving products such as LED lighting, motion sensors controlling use of lighting in low-traffic areas and energy-efficient power and heating systems that harness renewable natural resources such as solar panels, wind turbines and air-or ground-source heating.