Plants on a wooden desk in an office - Sustainable office design
Mar 19

Sustainable office design: Sourcing materials & minimising waste

Sustainable design is an exciting area of architecture and building design that has been steadily moving into the mainstream over the past few years and it’s easy to see why. Green or sustainable spaces can not only save on running costs but can also increase employee productivity and wellbeing for occupants.

Environmentally friendly office spaces are achieved when designers strive to minimise the negative impact on the environment by applying green methods, including using innovative energy-saving technology, sourcing sustainable materials, and recycling or repurposing old furniture and materials.

This new move towards being environmentally friendly has been supported by new legislation and environmental standards like the BREEAM sustainability assessment method and the ISO 14001 family of environmental standards.

Making modern office design more sustainable

When working on any office design and refit you should take the environmental benefits into account and find ways in which design, décor, equipment and other ideas can tick both the environmentally friendly and cost-saving boxes.

The two main aspects of sustainable office design are sourcing sustainable products and dealing with any potential waste responsibly following a strip out, whether that’s recycling, refurbishing or donating materials.

Choosing sustainable materials

One area to look into when sourcing sustainable materials is floor coverings and wall coverings. Manufacturers previously used lots of vinyl backing and bitumen adhesive but many companies have phased that out over time – making it easier to buy more sustainable floor and wall coverings as standard without compromising on the design.

Also, more people are moving towards using natural materials like timber and cork in their designs with reclaimed timber flooring being a popular option in many office spaces.

Minimise waste during office refurbishments

Getting rid of waste is usually the biggest aspect of an office fit out and refurbishment. You can resell, recycle or donate materials and furniture to minimise any waste on site.

There’s also been a trend to upcycle and refurbish existing furniture so materials can be reused in a style or design that suits the new space. The availability of more sustainable fabric makes that choice easier too.

While many materials can be recycled, including old carpet tiles, it does have to be acknowledged that some materials can’t be recycled and will go to landfill. There is a lot of legislation about how the waste has to be separated so it is still a big consideration and something that can be done responsibly.

Taking ‘green’ office design literally

biophilic design

A growing number of offices have taken the green trend one step further with the rise of biophilic design in the workplace. With many trendy offices, particularly in London, having moss walls and effectively creating an indoor greenhouse effect with their design.

The future of sustainable office design

Warwick Flint, Head of Client Development at Zentura, says “When we first started 12 years ago, being green was not a big drive at the time but our company has grown to become more environmentally friendly in response to growing demand and new legislation.”

Flint is happy with the range of sustainable products and materials currently available saying “you’re not really limited in choice as pretty much every manufacturer has recognised the need to be more environmentally friendly, either in response to new regulation, customer demand or just the general trend towards reducing environmental impact.”

While environmentally friendly office design isn’t always at the top of a client’s wish list, Flint is confident that sustainable office design will continue to grow and develop over time so watch this space.

How do you go about minimising your waste?