Becoming more environmentally friendly isn’t just a trend that will someday die out, but instead it is quickly becoming a requirement of all spaces which host residential, commercial and industrial buildings. The idea behind ecologically friendly and sustainable development practices is an attempt to reverse some of the damage caused since the great industrial revolution, and to ensure that our planet is at its healthiest when the next generations take the helm. This has resulted in a myriad of conscious efforts and alternatives to mass produced products made of oil derivatives. Not only have goods and services changed, government enforced standards and restrictions have pushed property owners to consider themselves responsible for the carbon footprint they are creating in an attempt to make profit, with initiatives like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). We can think of all this as humanity taking steps towards a symbiotic relationship with nature reminiscent of that which we had in our earliest days.

What’s Next?

So, as a business owner, let's look at what you can do to ensure that your workspace is as eco friendly as possible, in all achievable facets. 

Let's start at the bare roots of it all, the process of building or renovating to create or change the shape of spaces for commercial use. Building or renovating is, in essence, not very environmentally friendly; the amount of materials and energy consumed during the process is going to have some impact. How can we minimize that impact? Of course there are some obvious factors to consider, sustainable building materials such as: recycled steel, ferrock, timbercrete and even back to classic materials like straw bales (find more information about some of these materials here). Not only are the materials important but the actual design of the building can have a massive impact on its long term sustainability, considering things like: how you can get the most out of the winter sun with wise placement of windows, using concrete flooring for passive solar gain, and using empty space around the property (like the roof) as a garden relaxation area. Working alongside an experienced designer and having an idea of what you’d like to incorporate into your building can achieve a high level of sustainability at a low cost.

Furnishing For The Environment

Next of course would be the furnishings, finding sustainably built office furniture seems like an easy enough task, but how can you be 100% sure that what you’re buying is actually sustainable? There are some key factors to consider before investing, first of all is of course the function. Is it something that you know you will use regularly? If not, then purchasing it is perpetuating one of the destructive natures of modern capitalism which is materialism. Make sure that anything you wish to buy for your office will serve a purpose at least a few times a week, and if it's multi-functional then that's a huge step in the right direction, and of course durability should be another consideration as it offers a long lifetime of function and less waste being added to landfills.

The other key factors can be broken down to these three questions: what was it made of? How was it made? And how was it shipped? First of all, sustainable materials have become incredibly accessible and there is little to no excuse not to use them in the production of things like office furniture. Office chairs that have been made of a percentage of recycled materials, built in closed-loop processes, and are over 90% recyclable have become trendy and are affordable options. Things like wooden desks are still the go-to, but research should be done into where the wood has come from, and what it took to get from the forest to your building. It doesn’t take much to find this information nowadays with many manufacturers competing in the sustainable field.

Inviting Nature Into The Office.

Something that has been popular since the inception of office spaces is the use of potted plants, whether they are sat on desks or in the corner of a break room, they play to the biophilic nature that exists on a primal level of the human psyche. More recently we are seeing the utilization of empty wall and ceiling space, with living walls being used both internally and externally, as well as hanging plants in break areas. The benefits of having plants within the office space are not only the visual appeal, but they can also clean the air within the space by reducing harmful pollutants caused by typical chemical based cleaning products, dust mites and mold. Plants are also experts in stabilizing humidity levels leading to a fresher feeling within the space. Having such a cheap multipurpose feature like plants within an office can make a huge difference to the environment within your office, and lead to happier and healthier staff which can only increase productivity.

And, Finally … The Humans

Finally, one of the most direct influences on the ecological impact of your office is the behavior of your staff. Appointing some of your staff members as the in-house “green team”, in charge of teaching eco friendly tactics like correct recycling methods and conserving electricity, can be a great way to set an eco-attitude in your workplace. This could include providing free training seminars in the style of “lunch and learns” with your staff where you can have a speaker come in, watch some relevant videos together, and hold open discussion groups on what can be done to improve the eco friendly nature of your workplace.

Giving your employees incentives behind playing a role in the sustainability of your company by including the values in job descriptions, training programs, and performance reviews can reinforce the efforts. Awarding personal initiatives with small bonuses can also motivate staff to be conscious of their impact while doing their job.

Wrap

I hope you have taken some inspiration from the ideas and articles shared above, and find your own way to make your workplace something that works alongside the environment, instead of against it.

Author's Bio: 

Becoming more environmentally friendly isn’t just a trend that will someday die out, but instead it is quickly becoming a requirement of all spaces which host residential, commercial and industrial buildings.