Essentials Of A Modern Eco-Friendly Office

Many of us spend a lot of time in the office and would like these hours to pass in a harmonious and comfortable space. A striking example of such a “dream office” is the progressive and sustainable concept of the “green”, eco-friendly office. Indeed, it is possible to create a high-tech office by incorporating various natural elements into the workspace. But how can you turn a nondescript typical room into a modern eco-office?

Eco-style in office space design

Eco-friendly style is one of the brightest and most beautiful options for decorating office interiors. It is used by companies of different types: from IT development to logistics. Such an interior allows you to turn any building into a cosy place, convenient for work and creativity.

Eco-decor in office space

Eco-style offices can be decorated with different details. The classic version is posters on the topic of environmental protection. It can also be art objects from recycled materials. All this is distributed in different zones. For example, there will be more decor in the recreation area than in the working part of the office.

In modern offices, eco-style is manifested in the following features:

Using natural materials and recyclable materials. In such offices, there is a lot of wood of different species, metal, natural or artificial stone, and recycled plastic. Such materials are found in furniture and decor.

Soft lighting. Sustainable design involves the creation of a multi-level lighting system that consists of general and accent lighting. The hue and brightness are reminiscent of natural light.

Restrained colours, using mainly light natural tones. The main colour often becomes white or milky and is complemented by brown, various shades of green, blue, sand.

Eco-style in office premises is more strict and minimalistic than in houses or apartments. In offices, it is necessary to maintain a lot of free space as well as a working atmosphere. In order for the style of the interior not only to be stylish but also to harmoniously combine with the company’s concept, it is necessary to create an individual design project. That is why it is better to turn to specialists.

A green office is a space in which:

– are introduced environmentally effective engineering solutions that reduce the consumption of environmental resources;

– the layouts and seating of employees allow for the use of natural light and contribute to visual and acoustic comfort;

– a favourable atmosphere has been created with recreational areas, landscaping;

– there is an infrastructure for the use of alternative modes of transport;

– environmentally effective building management practices are being implemented (separate waste collection, environmental policies have been introduced, there is an environmental education program for employees).

Green standards

The most efficient modern offices, in which it is easiest to introduce environmental practices and achieve comfort, are offices in buildings built in accordance with international “green” standards. In them, the owner, at the level of architectural and engineering solutions, has incorporated green office technologies. And also where the management company maintains environmental performance standards at work.

It is clear that not all companies can afford to build an office from scratch. For renters, it is best to look for buildings that are certified green. This means that they are generally better designed and more efficient. In the building itself, there will be a place for trash cans, there will be rooms for parking bicycles, showers for employees, etc.

The idea of Green Office helps companies use resources rationally and efficiently and minimise their negative impact on the environment. Eco office is a whole philosophy based on respect for nature and respect for the resources of our planet. 

What are the environmental risks inherent in a traditional city office?

Environmental factors acting inside office premises can cause considerable harm to the health of an employee, or at least significantly weaken immunity, reduce efficiency, thereby reducing labour efficiency. That is why the “green” office is seen by many modern businessmen as an effective solution in improving the corporate “climate”, the quality of the execution of business tasks, as well as the rational distribution of energy, strength and health of employees.

– Air polluted by toxic substances

A huge amount of toxic substances (up to 900 compounds!) Can be found in the office air. Among them are for example carcinogens – formaldehyde, asbestos, benzene, cadmium, radon and others. Almost 1/4 of them are allergic. So, in the office air, you can find a variety of toxin-containing elements – solvents and organic substances contained in paints, adhesives, plastics, polymeric materials, tobacco smoke and other substances that negatively affect the body. The concentration of toxins in the air can reach such a degree when people working in this room develop upper respiratory tract diseases, bronchitis, and allergic conditions.

The reason may lie in completely simple things – for example, in finishing materials. 

-Air pollution by microorganisms

In the air of any room, there is almost always a so-called pathogenic bacteria and mould. The likelihood of an increase in their number in office premises is associated with the microclimate indicators (air temperature, relative humidity, the presence of constantly wet surfaces) and with the number of people present in the room every day.

The reproduction of bacteria and moulds is facilitated by:

– offices are located in old buildings (with the general problem of biodeterioration of buildings, when the walls are infected with moulds, and even under new finishing materials, they multiply)

– in offices with a large number of visitors and the poor ventilation system. Each person brings from the environment mould spores, bacteria. With poor ventilation and high humidity, bacteria are able to spread and multiply.

– in rooms with high air humidity.

-Increased electromagnetic background:

In the last 10 years, there has been a constant increase in the intensity of technogenic radiation. Almost any workplace in the office is equipped with at least a computer. Together with this, energy consumption increases annually, the load on cables increases, and, consequently, the values ​​of man-made electromagnetic fields at workplaces increase. At the same time, the concrete structures, in which the offices are located, retard the geomagnetic field of the Earth, which has a beneficial effect on human health. The result is the so-called electromagnetic disharmony with nature, leading to various pathologies.

Exceeding the indicators of the normal electromagnetic background occurs in office premises, as a rule, in the following cases:

– an unforeseen increase in the load on the electrical cable of the building, passing near the workplace;

– the electromagnetic field from the electrical wiring of buildings (a common problem, especially in old buildings, due to an ill-conceived power supply system). The increase in energy consumption of the building leads to an increase in the load on the cables, which in turn causes an increase in the electromagnetic field;

– presence of power lines near office premises, location of technological equipment, transformers, power cables in office buildings.

– improperly organised workplace: a large number of switched-on office equipment, randomly lying wires, unused devices not switched off;

-Insufficient ionisation of office air

The large accumulation of office equipment, monitors and computers in offices destroys useful negative air ions in rooms and generates harmful positive ions. Natural air ions are discharged in the filters of air conditioners and the air turns out, although clean, but “dead”. It is noted that people who work for a long time in such premises get sick more often.

-Uncomfortable microclimate

Everything here is quite simple – a favourable microclimate presupposes a good level of humidity, fresh and clean air, natural lighting, a minimum of toxins – a maximum of air ions. So, for example, the ratio of low humidity and high temperature leads to drying out of all mucous membranes, and vice versa – to exacerbations of asthmatic diseases and the reproduction of pathogenic fungi. In the workplace, balance is important.

 

-Aggressive visual environment

A “green” office is an office that is visually pleasing to the human eye. Today, a city dweller has literally torn away from naturalness; he is surrounded by metal-concrete structures, grey typical architecture, and linear geometry of spaces. In order to maintain health and performance, harmony is necessary. And for this, it is important to skillfully integrate elements of “living” into the corporate space.

 

Ideas and inspiration if you want to make your office greener:

Furniture and office space:

Create a unifying workspace. 

Evaluate the appearance of your office in terms of rational use of workspace. Redevelop if possible: create a small seating area with a soft sofa, tea table and cupboard for dishes and sweets. Create a filing system as spacious and convenient to use as possible. Install partitions for employee comfort and better productivity.

Make a choice in favour of sustainable furniture. 

Pay attention to the appropriate markings and the position of the furniture manufacturer with respect to the environment.

Choose floors with quality and safety certification.

When replacing floor coverings, remember that not all types of linoleum, laminate or carpet tiles are safe for your health and the environment. Appropriate eco-labels on products will help you make the right choice. Don’t forget about little things, such as eco-friendly doorstep mat

Plants

Add greenery to the office space. 

Place plants in pots or use the original concept of landscaping space – vertical gardening (Phyto walls).

Equip a recreation area. 

Set up a cosy green corner in your office where each employee can comfortably spend a 10-minute break, drink a cup of tea, relieve stress and gain strength.

Create a garden in your office yard. 

For those who are ready to go even further. Bright lush flower beds and green trees will not only refresh the external space and give aesthetic pleasure, but also serve to create new ecosystems.

Dishes

Ditch disposable plastic dishes in favour of porcelain or glass. 

Bring the necessary utensils to work and make yourself at home! Each employee can have their own set of dishes or give the team-branded glasses and plates with the company’s symbols. In addition, glass and ceramic dishes look more presentable.

Order food to the office in eco-friendly packaging. 

Some establishments have already adopted the concept of organic food packaging. Pay attention to this when ordering food.

Take lunch from home. 

Delicious homemade food can compete with a standard business lunch at a fast-food café. It also saves you from unnecessary packaging.

Energy saving

Over time, replace all bulbs with LED bulbs. 

Despite the fact that such lamps are more expensive, long service life and low power consumption will save you money in the future.

Install motion detectors in rooms that do not need constant lighting. 

Lighting control devices allow the light to automatically turn on when a person appears and turn off after a set time.

Whenever possible, use natural light or window tint. 

Large and clean (!) windows make it possible not to use electric lighting in the daytime. Do not cover windows with curtains or blinds during daylight hours.

Choose modern, energy-efficient technology. 

The energy efficiency level of various types of devices is indicated by the letters: A, B, C… G. Refrigerators, computers, air conditioners of A + and A ++ classes consume significantly less energy than other models.

Set appliances to power saving mode and unplug them when not in use. 

Computers, printers, chargers consume 10-60% of electricity, even when in standby mode.

Post reminders that will remind employees of simple rules of thumb.

For example, funny pictures on work computers or posters on an information stand.

Purchases, suppliers, partners

Choice of partners. 

When choosing partners, evaluate to what extent this or that company plays its role in respect of the environment: whether it participates in environmental projects; introduces modern technologies; how to offset the carbon footprint of its products; Whether offering energy-efficient appliances, certified paper, or a range of sustainable office products.

Invite your suppliers to participate. 

Stores can organise joint environmental projects with manufacturers and suppliers of products, for example, by enabling customers to recycle used product packaging. And if you are participating in a program for the protection of rare species of animals, tell your partners about it and help the seals or polar bears together.

Choose Total Chlorine Free and recycled paper. 

Also, take a look at FSC certified paper. The familiar icon indicates that the paper is sourced from environmentally and socially responsible forests.

Cardboard or recycled plastic. 

Choose folders made of cardboard or recycled plastic.

Buy from local manufacturers.

Order products from local manufacturers or from those whose production is geographically located closer to you.

Buy reusable items.

Try to buy reusable items, as well as those that you can hand over for recycling at the end of their service life.

Office equipment

Hand overused equipment for safe disposal. 

Sign a contract with a reliable company. When choosing a partner, we recommend focusing not only on the availability of the necessary documents and pricing policy but also on how openly and professionally the company is. This will serve as an additional guarantee that your equipment will be truly recycled safely and in accordance with all the rules.

Donate.

If you have planned to upgrade your office equipment to a more modern, powerful and energy-efficient one, but your old computers are still in working order, donate them. Often, various social institutions, and students, are in great need of them.

Choose green technology. 

Some manufacturers offer such models as, for example, high-tech printers that combine fast and high-quality printing, while ensuring a minimum negative impact on the environment both during the production of the device and during its operation. Information about modern models can be found on the manufacturers’ websites.

Separate waste collection

Take part in environmental actions. 

In many cities, separate collection actions are regularly held, in which both individuals and organisations participate. Find out about planned promotions, inform employees in advance (for example, about the upcoming collection of waste paper) and hand over recyclable materials during such events. Environmental organisations holding such green holidays usually present diplomas to participants, give small gifts or send part of the proceeds (if any) to other useful things.

Introduce consistent waste collection in your office. 

Decide what types of waste you can take for recycling. If a large amount of paper accumulates in your office, install a dedicated paper container for it.

It can be a box with an information sticker or a special modern container. For a restaurant or supermarket, food waste disposal is relevant. The collected waste must be sent for recycling.

Find out the closest recycling and collection points in your city and conditions of acceptance. Inform employees about the importance of the separate collection of waste. Place information posters near the meeting point, include notes on this topic in the internal mailing list.

Seminars, conferences, business trips, corporate events

Reduce the number of business trips. 

If you need to speak to an audience in another city, attend a meeting, industry seminar or hold meetings with clients, partners and suppliers, feel free to give preference to online conferences. For this, there are many programs that have already been evaluated by millions of representatives of the business community around the world.

Calculate the annual burden on the environment from frequent business travel. 

If your employees travel frequently for business, calculate the amount of CO2 emissions, the amount of garbage, the number of printed materials used, as well as the funds that the company will save by transferring part of business trips to the format of online meetings.

Minimise printing.

When organising your own conference or another event, keep the number of printing products to a minimum. Instead of handouts, you can use flashcards, discs or other storage media. Minimise packaging costs.

If possible, use signs, badges, stands and decorations from previous exhibitions. Use recycled materials to create your promotional items. Replace water in plastic bottles with water in glasses. If this is not possible, the used bottles must be recycled.

Make every corporate event environmentally friendly. 

Even if you do not have the opportunity to hold a corporate party in nature (for example, for the New Year), try to make your holiday as safe as possible for you and the environment. Remember about plastic dishes and a rational amount of food.

Conclusion

Every day the consumer society pushes us to use disposable things, the subsequent fate of which we do not think much about takeaway coffee in cups with plastic lids, disposable straws, bags and paper, which then become trash. Recently, ecologists have drawn attention to a new problem – microplastics, the particles of which are no more than 5 millimetres. It enters the organisms of animals, is found in food and water. Pollution of water and air, the general ecological situation regularly remind us that the resources of the planet are not infinite. Let’s take care of our planet and ourselves. 

Alexis Walker

Alexis is a Sydney-based part-time writer and a full-time mom of two. Her words carry the richness of her travelling and parenting adventures, offer advice and inspiration to those who desire to improve their lives. Outside of the office, she takes pleasure in spending precious time with her youngsters and absorbing the happiness they constantly radiate.