Sustainable Office Furniture: A greener future for the post-covid workplace
Furniture is integral to the success of your project, and generally represents a significant portion of the overall project budget. It is important to get it right now, and for the future.
The workplace is set to change as sustainability becomes a major focus for businesses. At ewop, we are committed to helping our customers and clients achieve the design they desire whilst also having minimum impact on the environment.
The first principle of sustainability is to value products which are well designed and well made- which last longer, and we all want to keep – thus ensuring their own longevity. We try to discourage a short-term, throw away approach and consider value over lifetime. We focus use of sustainable and local manufacturers and materials, energy efficient solutions, and low-impact manufacturing techniques.
Working with suppliers who prioritize sustainability within their manufacturing processes allows for a wide range of choice whilst also being safe in the knowledge that anything that is chosen meets a high standard of sustainability – whether that be that the product is 100% recyclable or made with zero waste. We are always improving our knowledge and understanding in this rapidly developing area, keeping up to date with new technology, manufacturing techniques and materials. Our aim is not only to minimize the negative impact but to maximize the positive impact on people and planet. It’s great to see so many new technologies evolving and expanding the possibilities for sustainable practice!
Here are our top things to consider when designing a space with sustainability in mind:
Okay, so this is not exactly furniture, but it is just as important to include an element of biophilia when designing a space – especially a workspace. Biophilia literally means ‘love of life’; Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson describes biophilia as the innate human need to affiliate with life.
Biophilia is all about bringing in natural elements such as sunlight; fresh air; water features; wood; and plants. We spend so much of our working lives inside buildings, so biophilic design focuses on bringing elements of nature to us in the built environment.
An easy way to introduce biophilia in the office is through the introduction of plants. Plants are not just there to look pretty; they serve a purpose. A recent article in the Journal of Cleaner Production found that the use of nature is often overlooked in environmentally sustainable design and the design industry often focuses on technological advancements as opposed to focusing on the qualitative aspects of the human dimension and tendency to connect with nature.
Plants help to recycle air, brighten up the office, reduce stress and other workplace issues such as low morale. It is always best to pick low-maintenance plants that are not difficult to look after and have a low pollen count.
FISP (Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme)
FISPis an independently certified sustainability programme tailored to the needs of the Furniture Industry supply chain. Created in 2006, FISP is a true sustainability programme and recognised as the benchmark for sustainable practices in the UK furniture industry. Focusing on not just environmental issues, but also purchasing, end of product life, social and community issues. When a furniture manufacturer signs up as FISP member they must commit to two core criteria; they must have, and implement, a suitable environmental policy, and they must comply with all legal requirements regarding environmental and health and safety legislation. To find out more look here.
FSC STANDARD WOOD
Wood is one of the most sustainable and environmentally favourable construction materials available. Whilst growing it absorbs carbon dioxide; it is one of the most malleable and adaptable materials; it is easy to recycle or reuse; and when it comes to the end of its lifecycle it can be used as biofuel.
For over 25 years, the Forest Stewardship Council has been committed to ensuring that forests around the world meet social, environmental, and economic needs of the present generation, without compromising those of future generations. The FSC certification system can help to secure a long-term source of wood and other forest-based materials.
The use of wood is also a large part of biophilic design. Many offices still under-utilize wood in their furniture choices – with a quarter of office workers in Australia unable to see any natural-looking wooden surfaces in their workplace. Wood is such a prominent feature in home, office, and outdoor space furniture. It is a robust and natural material that has longevity whilst also having a profound, positive impact on wellbeing. Its natural warmth and calm have health benefits when utilized in a workspace; from lowering blood pressure and heart rate to alleviating stress – and as we all know, a healthy employee is a happy employee!
Not only is it important to consider using wood for its health benefits in the design process, it is paramount to ensure the wood is sustainably sourced. According to the WWF UK (Are you Sitting Comfortably? Sustainable Timber Sourcing and the UK Furniture Industry) almost half of the furniture imported into the UK in 2015 came from countries known for illegal logging. Illegal logging can cause deforestation, species loss and reduced income for producer countries.
‘The wellbeing trend has grown steadily as accumulating evidence demonstrates the tangible role interior design can have on improving the physical and mental health of building occupants as well as their level of productivity.’
Wellbeing is important for happiness, productivity, and staff retention. This concept is supported by WELLwho offer guidance on designing buildings to include these principles. Whether or not your building is seeking this certification, we would employ these principles where possible in the design and specification of furniture.
WELL BUILDING STANDARD
The WELL Building standard is one of the leading tools for advancing health and wellbeing globally. Developed by the International WELL Building Institute TM, its application is spreading to different types of property, helping architects, designers and property owners to create safe and sustainable building whilst also promoting physical and mental health wellbeing. So, how does this apply to furniture?
There are several different key features which we shall discuss further, in depth, in an upcoming blog post. These include movement, materials, and sound. Movement, for example, helps to “promote movement [and] physical activity…[to] discourage sedentary behaviours’.
Want to find out more about how our products can help you achieve WELL Certification?
Get in touch with us today We will be happy to discuss our complete range of solutions