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Workplaces and businesses worldwide constantly adapt their strategies, resources and spaces to improve sustainability and lower carbon footprints. This can be done through several approaches and is something the majority of small and large companies now prioritise in their targets and values. One of the leading causes of environmental destruction and carbon emissions is the workplace itself including energy usage, construction work, technology and electricity and the wider community effects. Investing in a sustainable, low-carbon workplace is one of the main ways a business can meet its ESG strategies and environmental targets. So what is a low carbon office fit out and how can this benefit a business?

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What is a low-carbon office fit-out?

A low-carbon fit-out is an interior development that is low carbon through design, process and lifecycle. Carbon output can be classified into two areas; operational and embodied. Operational carbon refers to the carbon emissions created from the operation of an office such as lighting, ventilation, IT equipment, heating and air conditioning. The other form of carbon output is embodied carbon which refers to all the carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) emitted in producing certain materials. This includes the energy used to extract and transport the raw materials, emissions made during the manufacturing process, any maintenance work and actions taken at the end of the lifecycle. Any low-carbon office fit-out will ensure these processes are kept to a minimum, reducing the production and release of carbon from the beginning right to the end.

How to create a low-carbon office

Designing and implementing a low-carbon strategy within your business is an intricate and significant task where many different areas are involved. Each part of the process must be thoroughly thought through including design, materials, construction methods, transport, maintenance and lifecycle management.

“The best place to start when it comes to reducing business carbon emissions is having a sustainable office design. A good practice here is to switch all bulbs to LED or equivalent as they’re up to 80% more efficient than a standard bulb. Ditching printers and going completely paperless would be beneficial as well. You may also want to consider transitioning to renewable energy sources for your business’ electricity needs. For example, installing solar panels or exploring purchasing renewable energy credits can help to offset your energy consumption. When not in use or at the end of the day, it’s also best practice to consider switching off all communal equipment. Any piece of equipment left on standby still uses energy that your company could use elsewhere and is an unnecessary cost. It may also be worthwhile conducting a business energy audit. During a business energy audit, you or an outside body analyses the energy usage in your premises and creates a plan for future changes.”

Ed Whitworth, Head of Energy Performance at Bionic

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Business objectives

  • Review business carbon targets and contributions
  • Set new carbon targets
  • Consider whether your business needs a full fit-out or refurbishment
  • Hold stakeholder discussions to discuss objectives and requirements
  • Plan and discuss the expectations of investors, customers and employees
  • Consider your property strategy
  • Communicate to your key decision-makers
  • Set out a clear project brief which includes your carbon targets, how you will achieve these and any other business objectives
  • Consider both types of carbon emissions

Key features of a low-carbon office

Each business and company will have different features and aspects they prioritise in terms of office design and layout. Whilst one company might want to lower their carbon in terms of technology and equipment, another business might want a completely new foundation and transform its sustainable approach. Here are some of the main features which contribute to a low-carbon office.

Building design

Your building can lower its carbon emissions through the initial design concepts and plans. Incorporating elements such as natural light, insulation and space planning can come together to create sustainable solutions which reduce high-energy equipment or resources. The design process also includes the involvement of raw materials and everything used to create the space which could contribute positively or negatively to the carbon targets.

Energy-efficient office systems

To avoid energy waste and keep carbon emissions as low as possible, businesses and designers can choose energy-efficient equipment which comes from a sustainable power source such as solar panels or wind turbines. This efficient equipment can be incorporated into a number of different parts of an office fit out including IT and computers, security, air conditioning, heating systems, lighting, washroom facilities and kitchen appliances. Businesses can also invest in smart technologies and automated systems to reduce wasted energy.

Ensuring your building is healthy

A ‘healthy building’ not only benefits those within it but the planet too. Creating a healthy workplace is a lot more than installing fire exists, sprinklers, hand sanitisers and cyber protection, a healthy building also protects the surroundings and outside space. Businesses must ensure they invest in high-quality, smart features which require minimal maintenance and repair work. By limiting these aspects, a company is therefore limiting the technicians and engineers called out, thus the travel emissions and road pollution. A healthy building will also have sustainable strategies in place such as recycling schemes, reusable water and renewable energy.

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Low carbon office fit-outs by ACI

Our design, engineering and installation teams are open to any requirements or specifications, including low-carbon and sustainable offices. We will support you and your company from the very start including the initial design to construction. We can help to turn your standard office space into a more ethical choice no matter how big the change might be.

If you need support or any advice on your new office fit-out, please get in touch with our office fit out contractors and we can get the process started! We’re more than happy to help you with any of your office fit-out and refurbishment needs. We offer our fit-out services in Nottingham, Birmingham, Leicester and the rest of the UK.