Two serviced office operators, The Office Group in London U.K. and Sterling Offices in Sofia, Bulgaria, explain why the advantages of eco-friendly office space extends far beyond ‘doing your bit’ for climate change.
Developing a sustainable serviced office space is not without its challenges. So what can flexible workspace operators gain from greening their offices?
“It is one way of standing out from the crowd in a very positive sense,” says Charlie Green, co-founder of The Office Group. “We’re driven equally by wanting to do the right thing as well as having a commercial benefit. The two can sit very comfortably together.”
Charlie concurs that whilst he cannot demonstrate a direct financial return on the investment required to implement a sustainable approach, “the anecdotal evidence is there, without question.”
The Office Group has spent more than a decade fine-tuning their sustainable strategy, and with a healthy portfolio of 26 flexible workspace locations across Central London and Bristol, it’s fair to say they know what they’re doing.
It starts with a green ‘wish list’ including a green roof, rainwater harvesting, solar and PV panels, and natural ventilation. Every building is different, therefore the green features depend largely on the physical constraints of each property’s structural integrity and space allowance.
Roadblocks include planning permission and listed building status, along with approval from the property landlord.
“Some get it, some don’t,” said Charlie. “Where we own the building it’s much easier so we have free rein. If we’re leasing then we try to get the landlord’s buy-in which has had a mixed reaction to date.”
However, internal green measures often bypass the need for landlord approval.
“Internally we’ll always have PIR sensors on the lighting, LEDs where possible, recyclable materials and unseen measures like flow restrictions on taps.”
According to Charlie, Rivington Street in Shoreditch is The Office Group’s eco-friendly flagship. “It has an incredible green roof that we’ve had great parties on, rainwater harvesting and solar, as well as recycled tyres in the flooring and recycled yoghurt cartons in the kitchen work tops.” There’s also a bike shed for clients who cycle to the office, low-energy sensor lighting, and a wormery.
The Office Group is investing in long-term sustainable change by working closely with Global Generation, a London initiative that educates children and students on the environment and business. In addition, Charlie believes that for a significant shift to sustainability – and greater acceptance by landlords – there needs to be a real benefit for businesses, “making buildings more marketable and more attractive with sustainable measures.”
Next Page: Sterling Offices, Sofia (Bulgaria)
Sofia’s Sterling effort in green workspace
In Bulgaria, another flexible workspace operator investing in cleaner, greener workspace is Sterling Offices.
The company has just opened its third business centre, a high-grade serviced office location in Sofia, housed on the top floor of the GOLD DGNB certified Serdika office building. The property itself features automatic sun protection, a double-skin façade, and a ventilation system for fresh air supply with temperature regulation.
Sterling’s business centre features a green wall, energy-efficient appliances, LED lights, and a water filtration system that diminishes traffic and emission of harmful gases. Other measures include a paperless system, waste separation and recycling.
“We believe in redefining the way we look at interior design in the workplace,” says Giles Blanchard, Managing Director of Sterling Offices. “Creating an environment that besides being cool and chic, is efficient, ergonomic, vibrant and inspiring. This was the core motive towards our eclectic approach when designing the new location of Sterling at Serdika Offices.”
As such, their approach isn’t just about reducing emissions – it’s also focused on bringing the outside in and enhancing the productivity-enhancing effects of biophilic office design. The business centre’s top floor views of Sofia and Vitosha Mountain is evidence enough, while its lofty office balconies “make it possible for clients to step out and enjoy the views and the air.”
The centre’s own green wall is an attractive feature that Giles claims helps clients to “rest and re-energize during a hard working day.”
“Consciously taking the next step”
These features are a natural attraction for clients, but just like The Office Group, that’s not the only reason Sterling Offices chooses to invest in sustainable office design.
“Nowadays consideration of carbon footprint and practicing sustainability are a top priority,” Giles added. “Sterling is one of the pioneers in giving the ‘green’ office a whole new meaning and we are consciously taking the next step. We brought nature indoors to give that extra breath of fresh air to the business environment.
“We are very pleased with the opportunity to provide our clients, staff and guests with the opportunity to stay connected with nature, thus harmonizing health, spiritual, work and social aspects of life in an unrivalled workspace.”