How To Design A Kent or London Sustainable Office Refurbishment

With climate change firmly front and centre in everybody’s mind it’s easy to understand why there is an ongoing emphasis on the design and development of sustainable Kent and London office refurbishment. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) “Sustainability [is] rising up the agenda in the UK Facilities Management Sector”. It’s clear sustainable office refurbishment is gaining momentum and there is a shift towards creating greener office buildings and office space.

What Do We Mean By Sustainable Buildings and Offices?

You’ll hear the word sustainable used often but it’s more difficult to pin down a “formal definition”. To JBH Refurbishments a sustainable Kent or London office refurbishment can be defined as an office space that embraces the use of materials that promote environmental balance at the same time ensuring the minimal amount of materials are used while avoiding the generation of pollution and waste and the depletion of natural resources.

It’s also important to ensure that any resources used are renewable and can be recycled or properly disposed at the end of their natural life.

What Elements Are Important When Designing Your Sustainable Kent or London Office?

Step 1: Decide what your sustainability objectives are.

You’ll need to decide just how “sustainable” you want to be. There are various levels of sustainability. From “just” wanting your office to be “greener” to achieving the RICS SKA level of sustainability there are large differences in what you’ll need to do to your building and office space to meet the standards you set. For example, SKA “comprises more than a hundred ‘good practice’ measures covering energy and CO2 emissions, waste, water, materials, pollution, wellbeing and transport.”

Step 2: Find a fit-out company that has a solid understanding of sustainability and knows how to meet your objectives.

The site management and build phase of a project play an important role in making sure your office is sustainable so it’s important that your office refurbishment company understands sustainability and how to achieve it. This should include being able to produce designs and carry out your full office build and fit out. As part of the design process your fit out contractor should be able to reuse or recycle any of your existing furniture, fixtures and fittings, this can include fire doors, glass partitioning, office kitchen units and reception desks.

Your office fit out company should understand how to “sustainably” dispose of the old office materials being removed from your chosen building space. All materials that are being stripped out need to be handled and disposed of correctly. An example of good practice would be to send any wooden flooring that is removed to a reclamation yard to be reused rather than send it to landfill. Your fit out company should also understand how to safely dispose of any hazardous materials.

Step 3. Identifying the right building and office space.

When you are looking for your next office space you could look for a BREEAM accredited building.

The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) was launched in the UK in 1990 and acts as a set of best practice “science-based” standards which buildings are measured against in terms of environmental performance. BREEAM looks to improve asset performance through the design, specification, construction and refurbishment in order to achieve environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), health and well-being as well as achieving net zero goals. ​

Choosing the right building with the right credentials can go a long way towards your sustainability objectives.

Step 4. Designing with sustainability in mind.

Once you know your sustainability objectives and you’ve identified the right building the next step is to design with sustainability in mind. The products you use, reuse or recycle and the materials they’re made of will play a major part in how green your office will be. This mainly applies to your office furniture but is also a consideration for your office flooring, fabrics and finishes.

If you can use products with good sustainability credentials they can act as a good foundation on which to build the sustainability of your office e.g. wood products which have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) credential or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) demonstrate how they have been sustainably sourced and maintained.

Natural materials like wood and stone can have a big impact on a sustainable office refurbishment when used in office furniture, flooring, doors and counter tops etc. as they tend to be more durable so will last longer and won’t need to be replaced as quickly. Some accreditations specify that volatile organic compound (VOC) emitting materials which can be found in some carpets, wood preservatives and paints should be avoided as they can impact indoor air quality.

You can make your office more energy efficient by utilising natural light in your office layout. This helps to reduce the amount of artificial light that’s then required throughout your office thereby reducing your energy consumption. Wherever artificial light is required use low energy LED lighting systems which are more energy efficient. It’s also important to ensure that you use the right types of lighting which will support the office work that needs to be carried out.

Incorporating sustainable tech and smart technology can also decrease energy consumption, especially if it’s integrated at the fit out stage. Smart sensors can control and monitor light usage. Smart meters can be used to track and control heating, ventilation and air conditioning settings to ensure that the system uses the minimum energy to achieve the maximum performance.

Using local suppliers for all or as much of your needs will also cut your carbon emissions.

Step 5. Making sustainability second nature.

After all your hard work to make your office sustainable it’s important to make sustainability a normal part of your working environment. Here are a few ideas to maintain sustainability:

  • Make sure all desktop lights use energy efficient light bulbs and introduce smart plugs with built-in timers to ensure lights and other electric equipment is turned off when they’re not being used.
  • Locate recycling bins throughout the office to encourage staff to recycle. Think about centralising other waste bins to try to reduce the amount of waste you produce.
  • Eliminate the use of single use cups and encourage your staff to use refillable bottles.
  • Look for suppliers who use less packaging.
  • If you’re still using a paper-based system, consider making double sided printing the standard practice and move to a paperless office as soon as you can.
  • Many cleaning products are bad for the environment. Choose cleaning products that are eco-friendly.

How Can JBH Refurbishments Help?

JBH Refurbishments have over 30 years’ experience in office design and development and can advise on all aspects of your Kent or London sustainable office refurbishment. To find out how we can help us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339.

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