Going green is gaining momentum — whether it’s to save the environment, lower your building costs or get your utility bills under control, everyone seems to be finding a reason to think sustainably. Being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean creating a bland office, though; there are plenty of ways you can spice up your space.
An office in Amsterdam used pallets to create a customised office space. The pallets were used to make the desks, the platform area the desks were on and even the stairs leading up to the platform. Not only does this design create a unique work area, it’s also made with a material that is widely available and easily repurposed.
What can you do to make your office more appealing while keeping sustainability in mind?
• Go green … literally. Consider adding plants such as English ivy or peace lilies. They work to purify the air while also bringing some nature and a splash of colour to your office.
• Add a new coat of paint to your walls to make your space look brand-new. Using a light colour that reflects natural light well will cut down on your artificial light use. Grab a can of zero or low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint for an option that improves air quality and helps reduce harmful emissions.
• Incorporate recycled materials wherever you can. Use reclaimed wood to create a beautiful accent wall, or make art from recycled materials. The possibilities are endless here and you’re only limited by your own imagination. You can even find rugs made from recycled plastic.
Recycle and reuse
• One of the best ways to make your office greener is using things made from recycled materials, such as carpeting like the Net Effect collection from Interface. Net Effect is a modular carpet tile collection made with yarn from discarded fishing nets that were picked up while cleaning the beaches of small fishing villages in the Philippines.
• Like modular carpeting, modular building reduces construction waste and provides products that are greener, at a lower cost, while maintaining a reduced construction time. In fact, businesses reported a 65% decrease in building cost which just goes to show that it pays to be green.
These tips won’t add anything to your interior design, but they will make your office more efficient and lower your bills, which every startup knows is a good thing.
• Reduce your paper footprint: the average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper a year. Send memos digitally to reduce paper, and post employee manuals and other materials online rather than printing and distributing copies. When necessary to print, get the most from your paper use by printing double sided. Buy paper that is environmentally friendly, like chlorine-free paper with a high percentage of recycled content, or look into buying paper made from sustainable resources, such as hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton.
• We occasionally find ourselves in a frustrating situation when we print something and the last page of it is just ads, or other printable space was wasted by unnecessary filler. Use a software programme like printeco that identifies space that could be used more efficiently to help reduce paper waste and make use of white space as effectively as possible.
• Go green with your computer: use the power-saving features on your computer and unplug when not in use so standby power isn’t being used. You might be surprised to hear that many electronics and appliances draw power even when not in use. This includes phone chargers, TVs and microwaves. If unplugging every day just isn’t an option, use occupancy sensing power strips that turn off the power when there’s no one in the room. If possible, unplug all devices that aren’t being used and, of course, make sure to turn off the lights.
• Speaking of lights, did you know that artificial lighting accounts for 40% of electricity use in a typical office building? By relying on natural light as much as possible and using occupancy sensors to switch off lighting when no one is in the room, you can reduce energy use by 30%. Adding skylights to your office will let in more natural light. Companies such as Velux produce skylights that are made with a high percent of recycled materials and are 100% recyclable.
Going green makes everything a little more beautiful, and it’s a step in the right direction for reducing harm to our environment. With so much construction waste being produced every day, there’s never a short supply of materials waiting to be recycled into something better.