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Creating a sustainable workplace

In light of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) starting this week, we felt it important to share how we work with our clients to design a sustainable workplace.

COP President, Alok Sharma, has reported that “as countries begin to recover from the pandemic, we must take the opportunity to tackle climate change at the same time – to build back better, and greener. The journey is already underway. Despite the pandemic, the direction of travel is changing. Around 70% of the world economy is now covered by net zero targets, up from less than 30% when the UK took on the Presidency of COP26.”

The built environment accounts for a total of 45% of UK carbon emissions,  highlighting the vital role we play in protecting the planet and making a difference. Behavioral change within this sector has already begun.

Environmentally Sustainable Design, is now a crucial part of designing more resourceful and high-performance buildings that not only suit the needs of owners and occupants, but also the environment. As sustainable habits have become more widely adopted, companies are now adjusting their business practices to join world leaders in the aim to achieve carbon net zero.

The power of purpose

When it comes to making a change, we are definitely seeing a shift in the mindset of today’s workforce. There is no denying that employees now want to work somewhere that holds a purpose and sense of fulfillment – far beyond that paycheck at the end of each month. Employers now need to step up and show they are environmentally and socially responsible if they want to attract and retain talent.

According to Inc, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 and they are looking for socially responsible employers. The Cone Communications Millennial Employee Study found that 64% of Millennials won’t take a job if their employee doesn’t have a strong CSR policy.

While there are many ways companies can choose to be socially conscious, the sustainability initiative has been a particularly popular choice – especially when considering the physical space they occupy. Creating a sustainable workplace not only helps towards protecting our planet, but it also plays a pivotal role in employee engagement.

At Dthree we are committed to ensuring that sustainability is a top priority through all aspects of our office design and build process, which is why we encourage our clients to choose from BREEAM, SKA or LEED accreditations with every project we work on.

We know that redesigning your office is a daunting task, let alone taking into account the added amount of information there is surrounding sustainability and how you can make better workplace decisions for both your workforce and the environment. As part of our commitment, and to make the process as headache-free as possible for you, we have listed our 6 steps towards designing a more sustainable office:

1. Well Certified

WELL is the leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings globally. The pillars of WELL are rooted in our design ethos and can be directly incorporated into our design layout. We are proud to say that all of Dthree’s designers are in the process of becoming WELL Accredited Professionals.

2. Flooring, Finishes and Fabrics

Part of designing a successful environment requires consideration for every function and behaviour within your team, and in turn providing, an appropriate material response. For all suggestions we will consider cleanability, resilience and practicality. Dthree partners with several contractors who focus on minimising waste, responsible disposal and who use recycled materials within their specification.

Longevity is a core element of sustainability.

At Dthree, we will ensure that the fabric used in your office space is both durable and long-lasting. Many of the materials we specify hold naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. Elements such as timber, specifically pine and oak, eliminate around 99% of all potential contaminants. Woollen fibres are naturally water and soil resistant, with a surface layer that is less attractive for microbes which make them perfect for heavy traffic spaces such as meeting room furniture and breakout areas.

3. Onsite Management and Responsibility

The delivery phase of the project is just as important as the design phase when it comes to sustainability. Any materials stripped out of the existing space need to be managed and streamed responsibly so that recyclable materials are handled correctly and that waste is diverted from landfill. At Dthree we have procedures in place for safely disposing of any hazardous waste as well as recycling on site.

When working with clients to refurbish and improve their existing space, we encourage and discuss the opportunity for them to reuse any furniture or upcycle it to reduce the number of new materials used within the project.

4. Furniture Specification

Our in-house furniture consultants work closely with our clients and various suppliers to advise and guide them towards the most sustainable furniture selection, whilst keeping true to the design brief and overall business ambitions. They will also work hard to source products that are durable, modular, and selected due to their performance and low carbon footprint during the manufacturing process.

5. The Forest Stewardship Council

FSC system allows businesses and consumers to identify, purchase and use wood, paper, and other forest products made with materials from well-managed forests or recycled sources.

6. Working Together

Many well-being initiatives are closely aligned to sustainable business goals. Companies can make cultural decisions to engage their workforce in becoming more environmentally-friendly when working, such as going paperless or using renewable energy sources. In fact, any level of improvement is positive no matter how small it may seem. Why not ask employees for ideas and get them involved to help drive change forward and inspire others around them to do the same.

Here are some of the simpler changes we’ve been making:

  • For every fruit bowl we order through Fruitful Office (twice weekly) a fruit tree is planted in Malawi, Africa to provide fruit, firewood and in some cases income generation for families. Something we’ve been doing since early 2018.
  • We’ve stopped ordering from supermarkets and instead buy from Fed, Abel & Cole’s office-specific food and drink delivery service. Our everyday kitchen stock is now organic, sustainably sourced, and reaches us on zero-emission bikes.
  • We’ve also switched our paper supplier to Harriers who offer rainforest alliance certification, FSC, Carbon Trust and 100% Eucalyptus Fiber helping to reduce the impact of our necessary printing.

So, over to you. What can you implement this year to help improve the green credentials of your company? And who else might you inspire to make a positive change by doing so?

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