One particular reason why i love my job is the office environment, no doubt (though the only killer is having to cycle to the peak of Bangsar whenever i am commuting by bicycle!) But of course rest assured that the evening is paid off with a specatular view across the horizon of KL and Klang Valley as you end your day. I always believe as green building consultants, your testimony of practice starts from your office itself, and you don’t need a whole brand new ‘green building certified’ office building to do that, little simple steps matters.
No, it is not always just about saving the environment; green buildings with ergonomic office design also improve your employee’s well-being and productivity. However, given the novelty of green building in Malaysia, the conversation today merely revolves around the environmental footprint of our built environment by benchmarks such as energy and water usage. The dialog has yet to establish a public discussion that green buildings are designed to stimulate one’s interaction with his personalized working environment, hence increasing productivity. Then again, a study surveyed 154 green buildings with 534 samples across the United States found that 54.5 percent agreed that workers were more productive in green building and 45 percent reported employees had 2.88 fewer sick days.1
The effectiveness of a green office space is evident, at least in the office of IEN Consultants located in Bangsar. Knowing that the carbon footprint of commuting to work alone contributes more than two thirds of the total office carbon footprint, staffs are encouraged to use low carbon transportation mode to work. This includes some Brompton foldable bicycles that complement the public transport system along with a retrofitted shower room available at the office. Besides, there are also two YikeBikes, the most compact foldable electric bikes, for commuting to nearby meetings.
Basic waste management in offices such as reusing both sides of paper and also sorting plastic and paper waste into the recycling bin are also practiced. Plastic containers are used in take away orders instead of non biodegradable polystyrene packaging. The usage of water filtration system in office avoids the need of high logistic carbon footprint for bottled water supply. Instead of conventional aluminium air supply ducts, we use silent fabric air duct that has zips for easy washing to get clean air. There is also an isolated napping room for staffs to rest or to take a power nap. Most interestingly, we adopt CO2 neutral flights, meaning the carbon emission for our flights are compensated through clean development mechanism monetarily and possibly a tree planting project we are looking into at the moment.
Daylighting – Common Sense for Office in Tropics
One of the main features of the office is the ample usage of daylight. A good green office is designed toencourage the occupants to interact with Nature’s elements, also called biophilic design. A comfortable view out the perimeter planter boxes and skyline is essential to connect the building occupants to the external weather events. The usage of horizontal venetian blinds and removal of suspended ceilings allows deeper daylight penetration into the office space. Roller blinds with external reflective coating are fixed for window facing east and west to reduce glare. Nevertheless, staffs actively adjustthe manual sun shading blinds throughout the day to suit the current daylight conditions. Due to the usage of daylight and low energy lighting design, IEN office only uses 3% of lighting power compared to conventional office space designed to various standards limits.
Personalized Environment, More Productive at a Lesser Cost
A personalized and flexible office space allows an employee to optimize his working environment which will maximize his productivity. Besides ergonomic office chair, adjustable table height with electric motor allows staffs to work in the most optimized posture. Each table is also equipped with task lights and mini fans, which encourages staffs to control their lighting and thermal comfort environment without the expense of significant additional energy usage. Up Down light fixtures are used to illuminate the both ceiling and desk, this ensures visual comfort to the office space.
Putting numbers into the intangible return of investment of going green in office
As much as how these green features may seem attractive to you, there is a misconception on the expense of greening the office in terms of return value as it is difficult to stick an exact figure to this benefit. However, this can easily be economically justified even by a modest increase in the productivity, as the bulk of the operational expenses is rather the salary paid to the employees. The same research above also discovered that the increase in monthly productivity translates to a net impact of RM70 per employee.2 If you consider the benefits in terms of recruitment, retention of employees, less sick time and greater productivity, the answer for the choice of a green office is irrefutably clear, that green office also means healthier and happier for your employee to work in.
Feel inspired to transform your office space and getting rid of boring plaster ceilings with ever glaring down lights and high cubicles? I think the illustration below well illustrate the comparison.
Feel free to drop by IEN consultants at Bangsar for a visit! Of course, inform us first!
1. Norm G. Miller, Dave Pogue, Quiana D Gough, Susan M. Davis, Green Buildings and Productivity, Journal of Sustainable Real Estate, 2009. (http://catcher.sandiego.edu/items/business/Productivity_paper_with_CBRE_and_USD_Aug_2009-Miller_Pogue.pdf)
2. Net impact at 250 Sq Ft Per Worker Using Salary as Index