A sustainable workspace is one that minimises its negative impact upon the environment and reduces waste. Of course, protecting the environment is the right thing for all of us to be doing, especially as we all witness for ourselves the direct consequences of the misguided actions of past generations. But striving to achieve a sustainable workspace also makes a lot of business sense. Here’s a look at the concept of the sustainable workspace, how to achieve one, and why it’s important in so many ways.
What is a sustainable workspace?
A sustainable workspace makes efficient use of resources, such as energy and water. Where possible, it will use renewable energy, and it will have effective pollution and waste reduction measures in place.
Indoor air quality will be at healthy levels. Materials in use will be from ethical and sustainable sources, and non-toxic. The environment will always be considered when making changes to the workplace, when choosing equipment and across all operations.
Staff will be fully subscribed to the workplace sustainability policy, and are likely to be the type of people who actively seek out employers with a strong focus on environmental protection and workplace well-being.
What are the benefits of a sustainable workspace, and how to get there?
The environment is of course one of the primary beneficiaries of a sustainable workspace.
But for business owners, creating a sustainable place to work also means fulfilling corporate social responsibility commitments, as well as reducing costs, boosting employee health, well-being and satisfaction, and making it much less of a challenge when it comes to winning the war for talent.
Reducing energy waste is a must if we are collectively going to reduce the world’s carbon footprint and meet carbon emission reduction targets.
Air conditioning and heating contribute most towards global warming. Together, they account for just short of 40% of overall energy consumption in buildings, and 42% of carbon dioxide emissions. The trouble is, as the world heats up, so the use of air conditioning grows.
In a sustainable workspace, steps are taken to reduce energy waste so that carbon emissions are driven down. Workers are trained in energy efficient practices, taking care over how they use climate control and lighting. Equipment is serviced regularly to keep it running efficiently, and when it’s time to replace it, low energy models are the first choice. Materials and resources are re-used, so they don’t have to be replaced as frequently.
But there is always going to be room for improvement. And that’s where smart building technology can help considerably.
Smart building technology uses Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), data-driven analytics, blockchain, digital twin and cloud technology to monitor and control a host of building functions, from energy use, water consumption and indoor air quality, to human activity such as occupancy and heat map, and sounds and vibrations from machinery.
In the smart building, energy wastage is reduced because Internet of Things connected sensors relay information to lighting and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) control systems, telling them to switch off lighting, air conditioning or heating when a room is unoccupied.
They also send instructions to reduce the lighting when outside natural light intensifies. To reduce the heat as external temperatures increase. Let cleaning personnel know that rest rooms or meeting spaces need attention only when they’ve been used. And alert facilities managers when machinery or equipment is not functioning as it should, so it can be serviced or replaced before it starts gobbling up unnecessary energy.
Talent acquisition and retention
Business Leader says that around 75% of office workers have a desire to see their workplace improve its sustainability policy.
What’s more, an article in Forbes Magazine stated that 64% of millennials are not prepared to work for an employer that doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility focus, and 80% said their loyalty would be stronger to an organisation that made a significant contribution to social and environmental issues.
And there are workplace well-being factors at play here too.
A sustainable workspace is a healthy place to work. And if attracting and retaining the very best talent is on the agenda, a healthy workplace has to be a priority.
Good levels of indoor air quality, plenty of natural light, and the absence of harmful toxins that can cause ‘sick building syndrome’ all play vital roles in achieving workplace well-being. Healthy buildings should, in theory, also give occupants control over their own individual working environments.
Again, making all of this possible is smart building technology.
Smart HVAC has the ability to enhance workplace comfort by monitoring and improving indoor air quality. Not only will it regulate temperatures automatically in line with changing climatic conditions, it will also notify facilities managers to any emerging risks to workplace health resulting from hazardous levels of airborne toxins.
Research has revealed that workplace lighting quality can directly influence levels of staff comfort and health, as well as affecting productivity.
The trouble is, everyone has their own preferences, and some tasks call for different levels of lighting compared to others. Which is why ‘smart lighting’ is so beneficial.
Smart lighting controls work by recognising the ideal lighting settings for a particular space, and then responding by making changes to achieve those settings.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are just two of the technologies that power smart lighting controls, recalling personal user preferences and common reactions to environmental changes and using the information to set up automations that respond to changing requirements, with no need for human intervention.
Employees are also able to personally manage the lighting in their own work zone courtesy of a convenient smartphone app. This allows them to enjoy their own optimal working conditions, whilst feeling that their needs are valued.
Smart lighting controls also support ‘biodynamic lighting’. This is able to simulate the dynamic variations of daylight and sunlight, mimicking the rhythm of natural light to coincide with the biological clock, which can positively affect vision and overall health.
Taking all of the above into consideration, a sustainable workspace has the potential to reduce operational costs by conserving energy and other resources.
Cost savings also come through attending to poorly functioning machinery and equipment before it fails altogether and needs replacing.
What’s more, with a more content workforce, recruitment and training costs are lowered, as staff will be more likely to stay the distance. Customers are also retained for the long term, with satisfaction improved due to higher productivity levels, and clear commitments to the environment and corporate social responsibility standing for a great deal.
How can Smart Spaces help create a sustainable workspace?
Smart Spaces is an Internet of Things powered platform that works alongside the existing building management system, pulling in rich data from every corner of a building, including highly valuable energy consumption related information.
The smart dashboard feature of Smart Spaces allows users to set energy consumption goals and create energy saving automations, as well as boost indoor air quality, reduce resource wastage, and allow individual occupants control over their personal workspaces in terms of lighting and climate control. What’s more, the predictive analytics function helps to optimise energy usage, including across multiple premises.
If you are looking for ways to create and maintain a sustainable workspace, and would be interested to learn how Smart Spaces could help you, please get in touch or request a demo.