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The Green Workplace
Journalist Helen Parton discusses the Green Workplace - What Next, Green Buildings? Read more
The Green Workplace
The environmentally friendly workspace has reached a critical mass. There are many ways to rate how eco-friendly an office is for one thing. The UK headquartered BREEAM alone has certified in excess of 40 million m2 of floor area since 1990 while the likes of LEED, which is part of the US Green Building Council, promises so much to buildings going through its green standard: lower operating costs, increased asset value, tax rebates, that offering a green solution no longer works as a differentiator, it is now expected and a given. Surely this message has been thoroughly driven home to developers and landlords by now that tenants want green buildings?
Not across the board, argues Clive Hall, director with BDG architecture + design, who looks after sustainability. “Quite a few of the larger spec offices and particularly those I'd describe as landmark schemes have solid green credentials. It depends on the developer of course but some recognise going green as a marketing opportunity.”
While we may be living in much more positive economic times than we were five years ago, in terms of rents and yields, any competitive edge such as a green rating, could prove crucial in the next 12 months and beyond. Figures from commercial property and real estate services adviser CBRE showed a mixed bag for 2013 so far with average prime yield falling in the first and second quarters with commercial property rents growing by 0.7% in Q2.
A useful indicator of the current demand for sustainable office design is to look at the supplier side, where it seems, we're not stuck, but moving forward with positive signs abounding. From flooring to task chairs, suppliers are launching new products specifically with environmental ratings in mind and investing in manufacturing to make it even more green.
The green message hasn't got through to all developers, however, as Hall continues, “Moving further down in size, there will be the type of developments that tick all the boxes in terms of current regulations such as Part L but probably won't offer things like grey water recycling. We have been working on a couple of developments recently where the shell and core the developer specified will probably go through the BREEAM process but I wouldn't necessarily say they are green buildings.”
As well as BREEAM and LEED, there is also the Ska rating. Instead of assessing the environmental impact of whole buildings, Ska is an environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic fit-outs, led and owned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Advocates of the Ska rating point to the fact that it helps organisations from landlords, developers, consultants, fit-out contractors, and members of the supply chain as well as occupiers, to make informed decisions about fit-out projects. This is particularly crucial given the growing importance of sustainability on the corporate agenda, and the various pieces of legislation that relate to green matters.
However, the sheer proliferation of different ratings' systems is still proving difficult for some end users though, “We do see a lot of clients who know the basics about what BREEAM or LEED mean but they come to us and admit it's a bit of a minefield for them and so they look to us to give them some advice,” says Hall.
Thankfully, he adds finally, some end users don't just want to work in a green office because it's a great marketing message or is going to save them money. “They do it because it is the right thing to do, and with our passion for sustainability, we can definitely help.”
Management of Me
The ‘Management of Me’ is a guest article by Journalist Claire Dowdy Read more
Management of Me
Advances in mobile technology and an emphasis on knowledge sharing mean boundaries between work and life are blurring at an every faster rate - so much so that the very term ‘going to work’ is being redefined.
And as work encroaches on our every waking hour, our personal life increasingly pervades the workplace. The ‘Management of Me’ in what we once knew as the working week is now organised in a parallel universe of online social communication, be that with old friends, work colleagues or even clients.
Facebook’s CFO Sheryl Sandberg highlights this in her book Lean In, and sees it as a change for the better: “I am now a true believer in bringing our whole selves to work. I no longer think people have a professional self for Mondays through Fridays and a real self for the rest of the time. That type of separation probably never existed, and in today’s era of individual expression, where people constantly update their Facebook status and tweet their every move, it makes even less sense.”
Dr Carsten Sørensen at the London School of Economics is an expert in the relationship between technology and behaviour in the workplace. His findings back up Sandberg’s view: “We are entering the century of the individual. This is the century of me, me, me, and the notion that you have the right to express yourself as an individual. That will soon be the hallmark of any organisation.”
While employees’ behaviour at work has come to include more of their online social persona, employers are still working out how to respond.
Judith Heerwagen, Kevin Kelly and Kevin Kampschroer see these changes as new psychological contract between employers and employees. In their paper, The Changing Nature of Organizations, Work and Workplace for the National Institute of Building Sciences in Washington DC, they say the old contract was “all about job security and steady advancement within the firm”. In contrast, “the informal, ‘psychological contract’ between workers and employers - what each expects of the other - focuses on competency development, continuous training, and work/life balance.”
But how will this shift in dynamics – and a balance which is muddying the waters of life and work - affect the corporate brand? How do you keep staff on message, walking the talk, when they are engaged – either physically out of the office or on-screen – elsewhere? In the old days, a good dose of internal comms would set everyone straight, but that’s no longer the case.
One upshot will be an office environment which must better reflect the priorities of these individualistic individuals. Phil Hutchinson, Director of Strategy at BDG architecture + design, points out that in practical terms, they want their personal space to be as mobile as their technology. “People still want their own space and to personalise it. But they also want the flexibility to work wherever they want to. So personalisation tends to go with them. Traditionally it was a family photo on the desk. Nowadays, people take their very personal branding people with them, so they have same screen drop as they take it with them on their ipads.”
And in broader brand terms, as employees allow their individualism to encroach on their working selves, employers must figure out how best to accommodate – and possibly even to encourage – the Management of Me. Because as the world becomes more individualistic, it will be businesses that foster such a mindset within a productive work environment that will come out on top.
BDG has been working with illustrators to express graphically the content in the culture page of our website Read more
Jamie Portch is the first illustrator we have worked with on our website to graphically express the content for our Culture section. He enjoys creating images that have a visual twist and a slice of humour, and derives inspiration from a passion for science, architecture and screen printing.
He has been working with BDG to provide a banner for our culture page - which has also been themed during Christmas and the New Year.
Jamie has also designed some illustrations to support the guest articles on our website, including the last in our current series on the green workspace, by Journalist Helen Parton.