It seems every day we see new amazing examples of companies setting a high standard in green building design and the inclusion of biophilic elements in their offices. Employee wellness is becoming a top priority, as is sustainability. From the Amazon Spheres to Shanghai's Tree City, the green design industry is taking root across the planet. The innovation is breathtaking. Utopic urban planner Ebenezer Howard (the visionary behind "The Garden City") would be so proud. While we can't all build our office spaces with Amazon's budget, we can consider little ways everyone in the office can contribute to creating an eco-friendlier work space.
Sustainability on a Smaller Scale
Does your company cater lunches? Reduce food shipping by supporting local catering companies who source their ingredients from local organic farmers. Stock your office kitchen with a selection of coffees from a local roaster. You can also support local breweries by booking them for your office events. Consider signing up your office for a CSA Farm-share to have fresh, seasonal, local fruit and veggies delivered right to the office!
Reduce Carbon Emissions
Encourage your employees to carpool, bike, walk, or take transit when they can. Try to identify and remove any obvious barriers. For example, if bike theft is an issue that deters otherwise enthusiastic employees from riding to work, install bike storage inside the office, and if possible, provide a small shower and changing area.
Get a Living Wall
Just a teeny bit of shameless self-promotion here, but living walls can transform an office space from drywall and carpet to a lush delicious workplace. Research has proven that incorporating biophilic design elements (like living walls) into an office don't just make it look and smell nicer, it actually increases employee productivity, creativity, has a big impact on wellness, and can even help you with employee attraction and retention. Not to mention the impact statement for new clients: A living wall says "I prioritise sustainability and employee well-being".
Reduce, Recycle, and Compost
Make sure to provide appropriate options for your employees so they can properly dispose of their waste. Try to reduce office paper and printing by switching to digital formats when possible, and ask for documents in digital format whenever you can. Encourage your employees to use refillable coffee mugs, or provide corporate-branded refillable coffee mugs to new employees to set a standard from day 1. You can further reduce energy consumption by installing energy-efficient intuitive lighting systems.
Single-use Plastics and Plastic Products
Install a water-refill station or water cooler and request that your employees bring refillable water bottles to work, or provide new employees with a corporate stainless steel water bottle when they join the company. Consider the impact of your choices when selecting company swag for events. Ask yourself if the items you've chosen will quickly end up in the landfill, to sit for a thousand years or more before it finally breaks down. Is there an alternative option built from more sustainable materials?
Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products in the office. Reducing the quantity of harsh chemical cleaners in the workplace creates a healthier environment for your employees and is so much better for the planet.