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How to design a Sustainable Workplace

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How to design a Sustainable Workplace

Creating a sustainable workspace is a great way to help the environment, save long-term costs, and create a more inviting and desirable space for employees. While you may immediately think of a new build when it comes to implementing sustainability practices, going green is possible even for offices located in older locations. To create a truly sustainable space, work together with your employees to establish sustainable habits, implement green policies, and transform your workspace.

As the employer, you will need to lead the movement towards more sustainable practices. Whether you are reimagining your workplace and designing a sustainable space, or simply looking for small changes that can make a difference, your employees will follow your example as you move towards a greener environment. Read on for some tips on how you and your employees can create an environmentally friendly, sustainable workspace.

Implement Recycling & Composting programs

It may seem obvious, but prioritizing recycling and composting in your office is a great first step towards sustainability. Encourage recycling by setting up recycling stations around the office, giving employees easy access to recycle their paper, plastic, and glass recyclables. Recycling receptacles should be just as, if not more, accessible and convenient as trash receptacles. Save paper by printing double-sided, re-use papers from failed print jobs, and recycle the paper that cannot be re-used. Better yet, go paperless all together!

Alongside recycling, you can encourage employees to compost organic matter left over from their lunches and snacks. Many municipalities have composting programs in place, so your employees may already be used to separating and composting organic food waste! Set up a composting station in your lunchroom and ensure it is being properly maintained. Implementing recycling and composting programs should cut down on the amount of trash your workspace creates, assisting the environment.

Optimize Lighting 

One of the major areas of energy consumption in the workplace is lighting. To reduce the amount of electricity your space uses on lighting, change incandescent bulbs to energy-saving options like LED. Not only do these light bulbs use less energy, but also they have longer lifespans, leading to dual long-term cost savings. Encourage employees to turn off lights as they leave rooms that are no longer in use, and if possible, have your lights turned off overnight.

If your office space includes windows, use natural light to your advantage. Place work stations close to the windows in order to get the most out of your natural light, allowing you to use less lighting during work hours. Studies also show that exposure to natural light is good for employees’ health and morale!

Add Indoor Plants 

Using indoor plants in your decorating can make your space more green, literally! Plants can improve air quality in a space, as well as making employees feel more comfortable and boosting their moods. Incorporate plants into your space in an interesting way by adding a green wall or other living accent feature. On a smaller scale, bring larger standing plants into your lobby or conference spaces, or encourage employees to bring their own desk plants from home!

If you are thinking of using plant life in your decorating, however, take into consideration your space’s lighting as well as your maintenance capabilities. Choose plants that correspond with your ability to care for them and the amount of natural light in your space. Many plants can thrive in low-light conditions or with very little care and watering, while others will need daily attention and many hours of natural light. You may even have an employee with a green thumb who would love to take care of office greenery!

Choose Sustainable Materials & Furniture

If you are looking to redesign your space, prioritize choosing pieces that are created using sustainable materials. Look into where, how, and with what materials and finishes your furniture choices are manufactured. Some furniture may be created using recycled materials, salvaged wood, or natural fabrics. Depending on where pieces are manufactured, the manufacturing process may need to comply with environmental regulations. Be aware of where your furniture comes from, how it is made, and how it affects the environment.

Choosing sustainably made furniture does not mean you will have to compromise on aesthetics or functionality!  Today’s market offers numerous options for the environmentally conscious.  Harkel Office’s expert consultants can help you determine what furniture options are best for you based on your design and functionality needs, while also prioritizing sustainability.

Encourage Employee Participation

While you will lead the move towards sustainable practices, it is also important that your employees make an effort to participate. In order to foster a sense of community and work together towards being more environmentally friendly, form a “Green Committee.”  This committee will collaborate on green strategies, bringing new ideas to the table and making recommendations on how current practices can be improved.  This will help employees feel a sense of ownership for your green programs, and encourage them to work together to achieve your sustainability goals.

Other incentives can be provided to reward those who are going green in the office. “Green Challenges” could be implemented, awarding a prize to the team or individual who reaches a milestone or participates in a specific initiative. For example, if the entire team brings their lunch in a reusable container, if lights and electronics are turned off at every workstation, or if everyone brings in a desk plant. Encourage and provide incentives to employees who opt to participate in “green commutes:” those employees who walk, bike, or take transit to work.

Don’t be afraid to take the first step down the road towards sustainability at your space… even if it is a small step, you can always build upon it. Begin with small and inexpensive changes, and continue to grow your initiatives as you see the positive changes they bring. Create a sustainable office and begin to build your employees’ satisfaction and sense of community, see long-term cost savings, and benefit the environment.

Harkel Office’s team of experts can help you move towards more sustainable design and furniture choices.  If you are looking to redesign your workspace, Harkel Office will take the guesswork out of finding pieces that suit your needs and help you Get It Right the first time. Contact Harkel Office today for a consultation.

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