Sustainable Office Design – The world’s design trend
The term “sustainable” is being mentioned in many areas, and office design is no exception. According to the GSA (General Services Administration) page, a sustainable design work must meet the following basic principles:
- Optimize space
- Minimize the use of non-renewable energy
- Prioritize the use of environmentally friendly products
- Protect and conserve water resources
- Improve the environmental quality inside the building
- Optimize practices of operation and maintenance.
According to the research announced by the US Energy Policy Act, the buildings with sustainable designs save up to 30% of energy costs. Sustainable office design not only brings benefits for operation but also provides long-term benefits for employees thanks to positive effects on physical and mental health. The office with sustainable and environmentally friendly design contributes to stress relief and improvement of the employees’ work performance.
Sustainable office design is reflected in two factors: space and people.
What is a sustainable space? This is determined through key factors such as sustainable materials, waste management, lighting and air quality.
Most sustainable office designs use environmentally friendly materials such as recycled or easily decayed materials, and minimize the use of organic pollutants. Their waste management and treatment systems are paid attention to and controlled.
Waste management in office space: is the reduction of waste and the increment of the office waste recyclability.
Lighting: saves energy and maximizes natural light, for example, LEDs are used to save power.
Air quality: ensures the Air Quality Index (AQI) and uses air purifiers, like the air quality standard level of Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is at 62 and CO2 level is below 1000 ppm (according to ASHRAE). In addition, to improve the air quality, the greenery in office is also the solution used in office design.
Sustainability in the people-directed office design is expressed through ensuring human health. Office design focuses on the employees’ health through the application of ergonomics in interior construction.
Furniture that supports human health like a smart lift table is used. This type of table helps the users adjust the height; in addition, it also supports changing sitting posture to minimize fatigue and improve health. Lighting is also an important factor in office construction, it is necessary to consider the illuminance to match the function of each area. For example, for the working area, illuminance should be maintained at 300 – 500 lux, 200 – 300 lux is the ideal illuminance of the food court and the reception desk.
The balance of work and life should not be ignored by arranging auxiliary spaces such as relax areas like food courts, coffee break rooms, reading rooms, etc. Besides helping employees relax, these areas are also the spaces that connect members.
Sustainable office design must connect and create cohesion between employees. The office space must be designed to enhance cooperation and communication among employees through coworking areas, hot desks or small meeting rooms.
In the new era, with the shift of the key labor generation to Gen Z along with the world’s sustainable development trend, the office design with standardized energy and environment is the trend to which many companies are aiming.
Learn the definition of green office standards – LEED
LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is the evaluation standards proposed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). To be granted with LEED certificates (Silver, Gold, Platinum), the building must ensure to meet the criteria of energy saving, emission reduction, efficient utilization of water resources, optimal use of renewable energy sources, and improvement of the lift quality of people working in the building. In Vietnam, there are some typical projects pursuing LEED standards such as Deutsches Haus Building – LEED platinum standard, Johnson & Johnson office – LEED gold standard and Tetra Pak Binh Duong office towards the LEED gold standard.
Explore the sustainable space in the office design of Tetra Pak
Tetra Pak is a well-known company from Switzerland in food packaging solutions. As a manufacturing enterprise, Tetra Pak, formerly, has focused only on products and optimization of production lines, but now Tetra Pak changes their attention to human resources and investment in the development of the working environment.
Tetra Pak’s office design focuses on two factors: the working environment with LEED gold certification and improvement of the employees’ working experience.
To achieve the LEED gold certification, Tetra Pak’s office design needs to focus on two factors that are meeting LEED’s requirements for a sustainable office and satisfying the employees’ experience.
To create a sustainable and standard space, all elements are considered to have the best solutions. Regarding water resources, the whole office uses small water spray nozzles which help to adjust the amount of water used instead of using the direct faucets with a large volume of water. Regarding electric power, the office installs LEDs with standard Lux (Lux is a unit of calculation of luminous emittance, the luminous flux per specific surface) reflected onto the surface of tables and utensils below 300, ensuring good illuminance for more productive performance and energy saving.
Functional spaces such as meeting rooms, food courts, working areas are arranged near windows to take advantage of natural light, reduce power consumption costs while still ensure enough light. The environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and Low VOC materials which meet Green Standard are prioritized to be used. Furniture and utensils used in the office which are made of plastic or coated with paint or glue must meet the green standard to protect the employees’ health. The open office design and arrangement of greenery throughout the workspace creates a fresh, airy and relax space.
With respect to the employees’ experience, Tetra Pak’s office design follows the Group’s global guidelines under ABW – Activity Based Working concept; with the open and people-centered working model, the employees are free to select their workplace through a variety of working areas such as centralized working areas, personal working areas, meeting rooms, or coworking areas, open discussion areas, quick meeting rooms …
The employees’ working experience is enhanced by increasing the interaction space among employees through the spaces for meeting, comfortable discussion to encourage interaction and communication among employees. Designing additional common spaces including a food court, relax spaces such as reading rooms, coffee break rooms, entertainment rooms help employees balance work and life.
The construction of the new office with LEED certification represents Tetra Pak’s vision and determination in creating a comprehensive improvement and innovation in the new development stage. The new office design not only expresses the reliability and credibility with customers, creates the employees’ favor but also enhances the enterprise and helps Tetra Pak to be one of the advanced enterprises with an international vision.