Your office fitout: why it’s easy to be green

I’m not a gambler, but I’d bet you’ve seen, heard or read about sustainability, eco-something, carbon offsets or zero-emissions at least once today and countless times this week.

For the most part that’s a very good thing – it means our environmental consciousness is growing and environmental considerations are starting to play a part in our decision making.

However, amid all the buzz words it’s easy to lose track of what “going green” in an office fitout really means.

“Going green” means different things to different organisations.Think about it as a global term for everything that makes a positive impact on our environment. Going green is about introducing systems, processes and products into our office designs that consume fewer natural resources, save energy, reduce waste and minimise pollutants.

There are many expensive and complex systems that aim to “green” our office interiors, but often the most simple things are the most environmentally effective.

Let’s call this going “light green”.  If recycling office waste, reusing existing furniture and automatic lights were adopted globally, it would have an enormous impact on the environment. As an office designer, I actively encourage our clients to consider these simple things.

There is no great design behind  specifying automatic lights, space and containers for recycling or for suggesting to our clients that perhaps they should consider re-using existing furniture. I do this all the time and also suggest a few more “light green” choices as well, such as paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOC), furniture and finishes approved by Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), and window blinds with a visible light transmission of less than 10 per cent, to name a few.

As a designer it is really about making a client aware of the good environmental choices available, their cost, and the real benefits that flow from making these choices.

office-fitout-easy-being-green

Low-cost: Plants help improve the quality of indoor air. Photo: Luca Vignelli / Kono Designs / Pasona Urban Farm

“Going green” has certainly been systemised (for example, the creation of the Green Building Council) but this can leave clients facing mountains of technical information, choices and costs associated with “greening” their office space.  I prefer to follow a much simpler approach, where the environmental benefits are easily identifiable and the cost of implementation is low.

To go ‘light’ green, ask your office designer to include some or all of the following low-cost/no-cost options:

Office design that maximizes natural light.
Plasterboard partitions using EC08 plasterboard
Energy efficient whitegoods
Painting using low VOC, GECA approved paint system
Reuse, adapt existing furniture and joinery instead of buying new
Any new furniture used to be GECA certified
Individual room lighting controlled by motion sensors
Window blinds with a VLT (visual light transmission) of less than 10 per cent
General lighting on timer and with a master switch
Allocation of areas for plants to help improve the quality of indoor air

The articles on the Charter Build blog are written by the CB team and edited by Jane Bright, our Design Director. If you have any questions regarding our content, syndication of our content or content submissions, please contact Jane via email jane@charterbuild.com.au. For notification on new blog posts either subscribe (top of sidebar on this page) or follow Charter Build @charterbuild and Jane Bright @1JaneBright.