The pandemic has triggered a massive shift in the way we work, resulting in many companies moving from an office-centric culture to adopting the new ‘hybrid’ way of working – balancing a desire to bring people back to the office with greater employee flexibility.
This in itself presents an opportunity to re-examine how our buildings and places can be leveraged to positively impact our economies, communities and the environment.
Organisations are urgently prioritising how to address climate change when selecting spaces and one of the primary focuses for occupiers and stakeholders alike in 2022 is decarbonisation within offices. The built environment is responsible for up to 40% of global carbon emissions so it’s time to meet this challenge head on as the role of the workplace evolves.
Employers and investors are looking towards the latest in sustainable building techniques as construction and development races to net zero by 2050, although it is widely accepted that workplaces of the future will need to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030.
This is being driven by a huge variety of factors: building codes, government regulation, taxation and subsidies, planning requirements, occupier and investor demand, advances in building materials, increased use of technology and grid decarbonisation.
At the heart of the discussion around sustainability, is the real everyday experience of working in a building – how it looks, how it feels and how it is understood as a space to spend time in. Physical workplaces are key in creating a culture of sustainability for businesses. In particular for new buildings, a net zero carbon rationale has to be considered at every stage; from limiting the carbon footprint with all construction materials, from extraction to installation, using materials with high levels of recycled content, minimising the amount of material, and sourcing them locally.
But it’s not just about building more sustainably for offices of the future. The market is seeing more and more companies introducing comprehensive wellbeing programmes, with research showing that internal environments can play a big part on occupancy health and wellbeing.
One example being the growing interest in the WELL Building Standard™ which looks at concepts around air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Some businesses are reviewing the WELL Building Standard™ as a means of demonstrating the quality of their space which potentially, may attract and retain staff and customers.
High sustainability standards are possible and desirable and our aim for Magenta, a development that we are building with Clyde Gateway is to lay the foundations for a green lifestyle, where you can live near to active travel routes, draw your energy from district heating schemes, work in sustainable, flexible workspace and spend your out-of-work hours surrounded by green parkland.
I anticipate that 2022 will be the year to shape a brighter, greener culture of work. It’s an opportunity to improve the way we work and use office space to redefine the future of the workplace. We are not just implementing pandemic conscious design, but also climate conscious design, recognising that the climate emergency response is as critical as the pandemic.
Guy Marsden, is director of Highbridge Properties, who are developing the Magenta Business Park together with Clyde Gateway.