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Over 70% of workers value a sustainable office environment

Research finds that 73% of office workers believe sustainability improves productivity as UK Green Building Council completes office refurb.

A OnePulse[1] survey by leading office design, fit out and refurbishment specialist Morgan Lovell has found that 73% of UK office workers believe that a sustainable workplace aids productivity, with 72% saying that it was important to them to work in a sustainable environment.

Camilla Read, environmental and sustainability manager at Morgan Lovell, comments: “A sustainable workplace doesn’t only impact the environment, but also the people in it, and it’s clear that employees are increasingly recognising this – now it’s time for employers to take action. The fact that nearly three-quarters of our respondents said that working in a sustainable environment was important to them proves that this must be a key consideration when embarking on any office project.”

When defining sustainability, 40% of the survey’s respondents said that their first thought was ‘energy efficiency’, followed by ‘recycling’ (25%), ‘low carbon emissions’ (10%) and ‘natural light’ (9%).

Peter Weston, managing director of Morgan Lovell in London says that in many cases it’s getting the basics right that can make the most difference. He comments: “It’s no surprise that energy efficiency and recycling ranked highly in the survey. These ‘easy wins’ are some of the very first things we look at when designing and building an office and, working with our supply chain, we can help clients ensure that their new offices meet sustainability and environmental thresholds that benefit everyone.  

“Industry research has reaffirmed the advantages of optimising our physical environment. Improving indoor air quality by using low VOC materials and increasing ventilation, for example, can result in eight to 11% gains in productivity. So, when we now talk about sustainability, we see health, wellbeing and productivity as new metrics – a radical development in commercial property.”

A recent Morgan Lovell fit out provides a good case study. The company completed an exemplar sustainable office refurbishment for the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC). The project incorporated wellbeing measures to improve staff satisfaction, productivity, and overall health and wellness. 

These wellbeing measures included:

  • A beautiful living wall with over 1,500 plants 
  • An innovative ventilation system which has delivered a 750% increase in background air provision 
  • An automated low-energy LED lighting system 
  • Products and finishes that minimise (and sometimes actively remove) pollutants from the air.

Morgan Lovell built an office that is fit for a diverse range of working styles. These included an open plan working area to enable hot-desking; a sound-proof ‘telephone booth’ for private phone calls, a height-adjustable standing meeting table and break-out spaces for informal meetings and social interaction.

Camilla adds: “UK-GBC’s approach to its sustainable office fit out focuses on enhancing the physical characteristics of the workspace. They’ve illustrated that size needn’t be a constraint and together we’ve delivered a very high performing space. Improving daylight, acoustics and thermal comfort, providing active and flexible spaces, and introducing plants are just some of the measures that were taken which have a direct impact on employees. But all the ‘unseen’ parts of the office refurbishment – paint, carpets, lights, adhesives – also have a huge impact. Each bit was carefully considered in the six weeks we took to build the new office.”

Peter concludes: “We pride ourselves on being a leader in sustainable fit out and, having completed a project for UK-GBC in the past, we know how important responsible construction is to the team. Without our brilliant supply chain and the full engagement of the entire project team, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve such high indoor air quality with low VOCs or the impressive recycling and reuse rates. We had stringent targets to meet onsite and we worked tirelessly to ensure we built a workspace to be proud of.”

This project shows what can be achieved in a small space with limited time. It is possible to build truly sustainable office spaces that enable businesses to reap the benefits of increased employee wellbeing, health and productivity.


Lanes welcomes ‘positive' labelling step from wet wipes makers

The UK's leading independent drainage specialist has welcomed a positive step from wet wipe makers on tightening labelling of their products.

But Lanes Group plc points out that water industry experts want more to be done to protect the environment and prevent sewer blockages.

Michelle Ringland, Lanes Group's Head of Marketing, said: "The decision by the wipe manufacturers' trade body to review its labelling guidelines is a positive step in the right direction.

"However, we share the water industry's concerns that it may not go far enough. Our teams deal with sewer blockages every day caused by wipes. They are a major problem that caused local flooding and increase all our water bills.

"Like the wider public, we are also concerned about the potential environmental damage of disposing of man-made products in a way that allows them to get into the natural environment.

"Our recent research on public attitudes to plastic microbeads in cleaning and cosmetic products indicates that manufacturers have a clear responsibility to lead and shape opinion. They cannot just expect people to do the right thing.

"We have upgraded information about wipes on our website because we recognise the growing concern people have, and the need for clear advice. We also have a ‘Fact-or-Flush' quiz which allows people to test their knowledge about what to put down toilets, which we would invite people to try."

Edana, the European body for firms producing non-woven fabrics, said this week that it "accepts" it could have done better to warn consumers about products not designed to be flushed down toilets.

It said that, in the future, manufacturers should have 'do not flush' logos and labels at the point of extraction - around the lid or other opening - rather than the back of the packet.

Edana's ruling means its members, which include leading manufacturers, will be expected to reconsider packaging guidelines, and to pledge to change them within 18 months.

The ruling does not cover wipes that are designed to be flushable. Edana argues that these are made from cellulose, so break down quickly in sewers.

However, Water UK, which represents water companies, has urged the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to investigate whether claims that wipes are flushable are mislabelled. It wants no wipes to be flushed down toilets.

Most wipes, increasingly used to clean make-up, cleanse skin, clean household surfaces and for sanitary purposes, are made from polyester.

When flushed down toilets, they can mix with congealed oils and fats to create fatbergs that cost tens of £millions to remover in the UK every year.

Over time, the wipes also gradually break up to spread billions of tiny fragments of plastic - known as ‘micro-plastics' - that pollute water ways and oceans and become lodges in the guts of wild animals.

In October, Lanes Group published research it had commissioned that showed that one if five people in the UK intended to carry on buying and using products containing microbeads right up until they are banned in 2017.

The YouGov poll, shows that despite the mounting evidence of damage caused to the environment by microbeads, few peoples are looking into suitable disposal options for the microbead products they owned.

Michelle Ringland said: "It was clear public attitudes to microbeads lag behind policy, and the same will happen with wipes, if manufacturers do not take a firm lead, and advise their customers how to use them responsibly."


Wallenius AOT wins ‘Sustainable Product of the Year'

Guardian Water Treatment's bacteria killing ‘green' alternative to chemical dosing, Wallenius Advanced Oxidation Technology (AOT), has won ‘Sustainable Product of the Year' at 2016's HVR awards. Safe and environmentally friendly compared with traditional chemical water treatment methods, Wallenius AOT has been proven to kill 99.999% of bacteria, helping combat the UK's growing Pseudomonas problem, which causes fouling, inefficiencies and breakdown in closed-circuit water systems.

Trialled for as a Pseudomonas treatment for a chilled water system at NSG Group Company, Pilkington Glass' factory in Merseyside, Guardian's award winning entry demonstrated the significant savings AOT made in this application. Chemical expenditure and maintenance requirements were dramatically cut, with very little energy wasted and greater volumes of water reused, offering a far more sustainable and cost effective solution than traditional chemical dosing systems.

AOT benefits at Pilkington

  • £12,000 a year reduction in chemical costs
  • Less water wastage
  • Massively reduced maintenance requirement
  • 100% kill rate of detectable Pseudomonas bacteria

Steven Booth, Associate Director for Guardian Water Treatment said: "Winning this award is a great achievement, one that identifies the value of AOT as a real force for improving the sustainability credentials of essential water treatment, while also making life easier and cheaper for building managers.

"AOT fits well with Guardian's overall approach; delivering integrated and bespoke water treatment solutions that take into account how a building is designed and used going forward."

Rehan Rafique, UK Buyer for NSG Group Procurement, said: "We are delighted that the hard work undertaken by Guardian Water Treatment has resulted in well-deserved recognition. AOT has enabled Pilkington Group Limited to take advantage of cutting edge Water Treatment Technology to deliver a host of benefits. We very much look forward to working with Guardian Water Treatment to further drive sustainability through innovative solutions such as AOT throughout the wider Group."

What the HVR Award judges said: "Wallenius AOT by Guardian Water Treatment provides a sustainable solution to Pseudomonas prevention and fulfils all of the criteria for the category.

"The easy to install Wallenius AOT provides an environmentally friendly equivalent to treating water, with test data and case studies demonstrating a higher bacterial kill rate over chemicals and lower energy consumption over alternative UV systems."

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