Over 70% of Workers Value a Sustainable Office Environment

Research finds that 73% of office workers believe sustainability improves productivity as UK Green Building Council completes office refurb.

A OnePulse survey by leading office design, fit out and refurbishment specialist Morgan Lovell has found that 73% of UK office workers believe that a sustainable workplace aids productivity, with 72% saying that it was important to them to work in a sustainable environment.

Camilla Read, environmental and sustainability manager at Morgan Lovell, comments: “A sustainable workplace doesn’t only impact the environment, but also the people in it, and it’s clear that employees are increasingly recognising this – now it’s time for employers to take action. The fact that nearly three-quarters of our respondents said that working in a sustainable environment was important to them proves that this must be a key consideration when embarking on any office project.”

When defining sustainability, 40% of the survey’s respondents said that their first thought was ‘energy efficiency’, followed by ‘recycling’ (25%), ‘low carbon emissions’ (10%) and ‘natural light’ (9%).

Peter Weston, managing director of Morgan Lovell in London says that in many cases it’s getting the basics right that can make the most difference. He comments: “It’s no surprise that energy efficiency and recycling ranked highly in the survey. These ‘easy wins’ are some of the very first things we look at when designing and building an office and, working with our supply chain, we can help clients ensure that their new offices meet sustainability and environmental thresholds that benefit everyone.

“Industry research has reaffirmed the advantages of optimising our physical environment. Improving indoor air quality by using low VOC materials and increasing ventilation, for example, can result in eight to 11% gains in productivity. So, when we now talk about sustainability, we see health, wellbeing and productivity as new metrics – a radical development in commercial property.”

A recent Morgan Lovell fit out provides a good case study. The company completed an exemplar sustainable office refurbishment for the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC). The project incorporated wellbeing measures to improve staff satisfaction, productivity, and overall health and wellness.

These wellbeing measures included:

  • A beautiful living wall with over 1,500 plants
  • An innovative ventilation system which has delivered a 750% increase in background air provision
  • An automated low-energy LED lighting system
  • Products and finishes that minimise (and sometimes actively remove) pollutants from the air.

Morgan Lovell built an office that is fit for a diverse range of working styles. These included an open plan working area to enable hot-desking; a sound-proof ‘telephone booth’ for private phone calls, a height-adjustable standing meeting table and break-out spaces for informal meetings and social interaction.

Camilla adds: “UK-GBC’s approach to its sustainable office fit out focuses on enhancing the physical characteristics of the workspace. They’ve illustrated that size needn’t be a constraint and together we’ve delivered a very high performing space. Improving daylight, acoustics and thermal comfort, providing active and flexible spaces, and introducing plants are just some of the measures that were taken which have a direct impact on employees. But all the ‘unseen’ parts of the office refurbishment – paint, carpets, lights, adhesives – also have a huge impact. Each bit was carefully considered in the six weeks we took to build the new office.”

Peter concludes: “We pride ourselves on being a leader in sustainable fit out and, having completed a project for UK-GBC in the past, we know how important responsible construction is to the team. Without our brilliant supply chain and the full engagement of the entire project team, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve such high indoor air quality with low VOCs or the impressive recycling and reuse rates. We had stringent targets to meet onsite and we worked tirelessly to ensure we built a workspace to be proud of.”

This project shows what can be achieved in a small space with limited time. It is possible to build truly sustainable office spaces that enable businesses to reap the benefits of increased employee wellbeing, health and productivity.

About UK-GBC’s new office

UK Green Building Council’s (UK-GBC) 160m² central London office has achieved the lowest embodied carbon footprint ever recorded for an office refurbishment in the UK. Other key achievements include:

  • 139 kgCO2/m² – Embodied carbon footprint 22% below a comparable “standard” fit-out and the lowest ever recorded in the UK (SCP database, WRAP database)
  • 48% decrease in carbon emissions from lighting
  • 99.4% of construction waste diverted from landfill
  • 98% of original fixtures and finishes reused or repurposed