Improving sustainability in old and existing office buildings « Sum

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Improving sustainability in old and existing office buildings

Sustainability and eco-friendly office buildings are quickly growing in popularity, with workers and companies becoming more conscious of their impact on the environment.

Businesses operating in offices which are recognised as overall sustainable and socially conscious are typically more appealing to staff and can actually contribute to the motivation and productivity of employees.

In areas such as London, air pollution and waste is rife and therefore, companies operating in these areas should push to make changes within the working environment, operations tasks and through educating staff, to reduce the impact on the environment.

From sustainable office designs to implementing recycling systems for waste, water and energy, businesses can now dramatically reduce their environmental impact on the world and position themselves as an eco-conscious brand, but how can those operating in older buildings make effective changes?

Changes in older buildings

Typically, older buildings are likely to be less eco-friendly than new purpose-built offices. This is often due to the materials and information available at the time of the build, differing from today’s industry knowledge.

Although the utilities in the building may be slightly more dated than those in newer buildings, there are still plenty of changes which can be implemented to boost the eco-friendliness of the building.

From ensuring that the light fittings and bulbs are energy saving to having insulation installed in the walls, ceilings and floors, there are both large and small scale changes which can be made, in line with any budget.

A sustainable tune-up

When making changes to an older building, there are plenty of professionals who will conduct an overall audit of the building and the spaces, including utilities and offer advice on reducing energy waste and use. From adjusting thermostats and air conditioning settings, implementing timers to cleaning filters and fans regularly and fixing leaks, companies can see considerable reductions in costs associated with temperature control and utilities.

Get a bright idea

Lighting consumes a lot of energy, costing businesses greatly, therefore utilising natural light wherever possible is a core way to improve sustainability. This might require the elimination of partition walls, or open an office up to let light flood through the space in order to make the most of the sunlight where possible. It should also be considered as to how glare and reflections will be tackled by effectively plotting the office space or even implementing hot-desk working.

By switching light bulbs out for LED fittings, businesses can see their energy costs halved. Using around 80% less energy, with up to ten times the lifespan of other bulbs, this simple measure can save a considerable amount of time and energy with minimal effort.

Replace and recycle old equipment and fittings

Although many businesses might not want to replace their equipment, older computers and technology is likely to use more energy compared to their newer counterparts. Replacing them for more up to date systems and hardware may seem costly to start with but could result in a dramatic decrease in the energy used over time.

Technology isn’t the only equipment which should be assessed; boilers, radiators, air conditioning, heaters and water fixtures could all be consuming a lot more power or water than is necessary. Having these assessed could lead to some initial replacement costs but could see the sustainability of your office building leap considerably.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Recycling is one of the simplest methods of encouraging sustainable practices amongst the workforce. By purchasing a number of different bins, employees can easily separate recyclables and trash, into separate containers, which can be then more easily recycled each week.

It may also take some time for employees to adjust, so many companies operate with recycling ambassadors who will look out for anyone not recycling and educate them on how to best clean and recycle their waste products.

Ongoing changes

Sustainability is all about ongoing changes and as such, office managers should monitor consumption and make changes accordingly going forward. Energy and water usage will differ between tenancies and by understanding the types of energy usage, more relevant changes can be made over time.

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