Starbucks in Tukwila, Washington

Plan, Design, and Operate Sustainably

Companies both large and small are learning that sustainable business practices not only help the environment but can also improve profitability by supporting greater efficiency, less waste and better community and employee relations.

When creating a sustainable workplace, you should consider the following aspects:

  1. Planning
  2. Design and build
  3. Operations

Each of which brings considerable savings to your bottom line.

Let’s take a look at each aspect.

  1. Workplace Planning

Planning enables you to develop a workplace ideal to your expectations, while being viable and resourceful for your business and towards the environment.

When looking for premises, consider retrofitting an older style property instead of occupying new office blocks. An architect can help you think outside the square on how space can be best utilised for your needs.

If it’s a new build, select offices with plenty of natural sunlight so you can work longer before turning on lights. You can create more sources of natural light via large windows and atriums in your building design.

  1. Design and Build

A number of design principles can be applied to produce a space that is unique and efficient.

A new trend emerging recently is in re-purpose shipping containers. This concept is particularly great if you have vacant space on your property and need to build an extension or more storage space. It is also a suitable idea if you need to build a home office in your backyard.

Take a look at a recent Starbucks store that was constructed from recycled shipping containers.

You may consider using old, discarded or pre-loved furniture and fixtures. Restored or recycled furniture and fixtures create not only environmental benefits, but restored pieces can be a real focal point in design.

  1. Operational

When it comes to operating your business, there are a number of simple things you can do to create cost efficiencies through sustainable practices.

Ensure switches are labelled, so employees understand which are relevant to minimise excess lighting and appliance use.

Install dimmers on your lights where possible, so you can adjust for varying levels of natural light in the room.

Display lightingshould only be installed for spot lighting selected displays and not as general illumination.  If you are in retail or hospitality, keep lighting on a reduced level and only switch on display lighting just before opening time or put them on a timer.

Energy light bulbs – invest in LED light bulbs to capitalise substantial long-term financial savings that should compensate for their higher prices.

Install motion sensor lighting, especially for storage cupboards, plant room lighting and other rarely used rooms, which are switched off by default.

Creating a sustainable workplace in design and operations is highly recommended as the benefits significantly exceed the monetary investment.

by Ruth Newman