By Morgan Lovell, Office Transformation.
For some people, the term ‘green’ offices conjures up images of uncomfortable, costly workplaces that make little difference to the environment.
The reality is not quite so dramatic. Green offices add up on many counts, creating inspirational spaces that deliver a comfortable, functional and durable space — which can also save money too.
The truth is out there and here office design specialists Morgan Lovell answer nine top myths about green workplaces.
1. Green offices are more expensive
There is no need to spend any more on sustainable office than any other refit. Using a well-established fit out company to do the work will result in greater purchasing power and better deals on office equipment such as carpets, desks and chairs.
In addition, with a green office it is more about what you can save in the future. Installing energy saving lighting, heating and ventilation in your office could save you up to 25% on your energy bills each year.
New legislation such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme which will affect companies using more than 6000 megawatt hours of electricity per year will provide a financial incentive to reduce emissions in future. In addition, the government’s [b]Enhanced Capital Allowances[b/] programme can offer 100 per cent tax relief on the cost of installing listed energy efficient technology.
2. It’s like working in a garden
Although a few plants may help clean the air and create a comfortable environment, there’s no need for a green office to look like a garden. In fact creating a sustainable office is more about minimising our impact on the environment through reducing energy use and wastage, and choosing ethically when replacement fixtures and fittings are needed.
Check out the Morgan Lovell website for examples and case studies of green offices that are stylish and funky without looking like a jungle.
3. They are unworkable
A green office should enhance the working environment. Natural light and fresh air can really improve an office and help people to feel good about where they work, raising morale and productivity.
Of course it’s essential that you meet the regulation lighting, heating and ventilation levels, but by installing daylight sensors you can make the most of the natural light available. Targeted and zoned lighting, heating and ventilation will save energy and infra red motion detectors can ensure lights are turned off when not needed.
However, there’s no need to jump in and start spending a lot of money on a turning your office into a green haven. Beginning with simple things like switching off equipment when it’s not in use and cutting out unnecessary printing will make a real difference.
4. Not long-lasting[u/]
Green office equipment is standing up to office life. As more and more people start to think ethically when sourcing office equipment, more feedback is being produced about how such equipment stands up to the rigours of office life. Morgan Lovell have used their own ‘green’ office in London’s Noel Street as a testbed for sustainable fixtures and fittings, such as carpets, and found they offer the same longevity as conventional products.
[u]5. It won’t make a difference
Even small things like making sure the lights are turned off when there’s no one in the room makes a difference - not only to the environment, but also to your energy bills. The reality is that if everyone makes just small changes, the overall impact can be enormous.
The decision to make your office more sustainable reflects on your business too. The benefits of ethical business are widely recognised, and energy efficiency can be the cornerstone of a Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
6. They’re only for green companies
New legislation regarding energy efficiency applies to all companies — not just those that declare themselves to be ‘green’.
The government’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme covers all businesses that use more than 6000 megawatt hours of electricity a year. Such companies will have to buy allowances for their projected CO2 output and will be either rewarded or penalised according to performance.
The Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme provides businesses with 100 per cent tax relief on the cost of installing certain energy efficient technology and machinery.
Reducing your energy usage and waste should cut your business operating costs — and that makes good business sense to everyone.
7. No one will care
Research carried out by Morgan Lovell in 2008 indicated that more than 90 per cent of workers valued being part of an office with a green agenda. In fact it’s important that staff feel involved, as with their commitment you’re more likely to succeed on making a real change.
Green issues have become important for many people and it’s likely that your staff will want to make a difference. Many may already be taking steps to improve their green credentials outside work, so by encouraging their input in the office you can tap into this enthusiasm.
These days demonstrating a commitment to sustainable working practices can be important when procuring work, with many businesses and public sector organisations wanting to see evidence of this from the companies they do business with.
8. The benefits aren’t measurable
The reduction in your energy bills should certainly be measurable. When Morgan Lovell carried out a sustainable refit of their London headquarters initial reports indicated an immediate 11 per cent reduction in energy usage.
Today’s sustainable technology makes monitoring easy. Smart meters provide real time information on usage patterns of electricity, water or gas. Meters can even be set up to monitor individual floors separately. All this information can be used to determine where it’s possible to minimise wastage.
If you are intending to move to a new office or to refurbish an existing one, then it may be worth considering getting an evaluation against a recognised environmental rating system, such as BREEAM® (BRE’s Environmental Assessment Method. This will give you an impartial validation of your green credentials.
The assessment will examine such things as what measures you have in place to reduce water usage and evidence of responsible waste management.
9. They’re always either too cold or too hot
Targeted zonal heating and air conditioning should make offices easier to keep comfortable, without wasting money heating or cooling areas that don’t need it. Morgan Lovell’s own London headquarters uses a variable air movement system as well as a heat recovery ventilation system. This provides fresh air from outdoors along with improved climate control, while reducing heating and cooling requirements and saving energy.
For more information on the benefits of sustainable offices, read our latest white paper at www.morganlovell.co.uk