What the future holds for commercial design

Kirsty Shearer, Director of Development at Agility Solutions, looks at how we can shape the sustainable future of commercial design

There’s no escaping the fact that sustainability has indeed found its way to the boardroom table recently – but is the notion of sustainability a long-held principle that’s here to stay, or just a another company buzzword?

The architecture and construction industry is not alone in its attempt to minimize humanity’s impact on the environment, but we are uniquely positioned to play a part in creating a sustainable future for generations to come – with efficiency and moderation in the supply chain, use of materials, and employees are at the heart of its success.

Although initial thoughts may shift to Building Information Modeling (BIM) as the obvious solution, thanks to its ability to collect data throughout the project lifecycle, enabling faster, safer and less costly construction. . This, coupled with more profitable and sustainable operations, is a great place to start.

But our attention should not stop there.

When considering sustainability in the built environment, it is important to look beyond the physical elements of construction and consider how we create commercial spaces that fit the bill in terms of function, form, longevity and well-being.

By striving to create developments that not only create a better future for the client, the building and its occupants, it is also possible to play a part in protecting the future of our planet.

Sustainable supply chain in construction

Of course, the ability to develop a sustainable design solution will never be as strong as those who define the brief, outline the budget and make the final decisions. But as net zero ambitions make their way onto corporate agendas; it is the collective responsibility of everyone who operates in the built environment to be that “critical friend” and challenge a case if there is a way to make a project more sustainable.

That’s why, rather than adding such sentiment as a ‘nice to have’, there should be a sustainability goal set from the start – with all parties buying into the strategy and the logic behind it. tends. And it must be revisited, tweaked and mentioned throughout the deployment of the project.

Of course, that’s in an ideal world. But a good place to start is to advocate for responsible sourcing of materials and labor – and preferably, locally. Canceling the requirement to ship supplies across vast oceans in a bid to reduce costs will help reduce emissions associated with “carrying” infrastructure to site, but also means that any issues of product can also be corrected quickly.

With a huge pool of contractors to choose from – in most places – it pays to be picky. In addition to seeking endorsement from “happy customers,” also look for proven green credentials, especially around recycling, travel, and the company’s own purchases.

Naturally, there will always be cases where a development is driven entirely by budget and ambition – rather than the longer-term implications of design – or where it is simply impossible to source property from another way.

But, even if you’re surrounded by people for whom building ethics is at the very bottom of the pile, it’s still possible to make a difference. Examine your own carbon footprint, implement changes if necessary and be sure to highlight your own “green credentials” as part of any offer.

Sustainability is not limited to bricks and mortar

When considering durability in commercial interiors, it is also important to look beyond the physical elements of construction. The past two years have given workers a “reset” when it comes to where they do their work – and office space needs to be responsive to the needs and wants of those who use it.

While the overnight shift to working from home in 2020 marked the start of a complete shake-up of the business landscape, it has forced employees to also think about what they want from their careers – as well as the where they want their workspace to be.

The ambition to curate holistic design is on the rise – and nowhere more in evidence than in the office environment. From quiet zones for focused work to chill-out zones that mimic the comforts of home, the new era of the workplace brings with it a very different set of quirks.

While not an approach that works for all businesses, many organizations have realized the need to deliver sustainable solutions not just in a brick-and-mortar sense, but through attitudes. and the environment they provide to their colleagues.

Integrate sustainability into your HR and operational strategies

Going back to an earlier point about sustainability being more than just an attempt to become net zero carbon, we should remember that colleagues expect the companies they work for to also show their commitments. green in all facets of corporate behavior.

Including a nod to sustainability in your company’s value proposition should hopefully be a no-brainer – but bringing them to life rests solely on the shoulders of the people who live and breathe them. Therefore, it’s essential to build your recruiting strategy around a desire to collaborate with like-minded people.

Business leaders shouldn’t just look to fill vacancies with people with the right qualifications, experience or background – there are plenty of capable project managers, architects and developers out there. Instead, make it a priority to employ rounded people who are open-minded to bring something new to the table and drive positive change.

By looking for talent that truly embraces the opportunity to push boundaries, while challenging clients to truly think about how they intend to use a space, it’s possible to start making meaningful change.

However, simply recruiting someone based on their “green” interests is not the start and stop point of investing. Providing ongoing training on what it means to be sustainable for colleagues – perhaps through DPC-accredited courses – will pay long-term dividends.

Paperless offices are nothing new, but the technology has enabled many architecture, design and construction firms to maintain a semblance of “business as usual” during the height of the pandemic.

Replacing lengthy proposal documents with concise PDFs, adopting 360-degree photographic reports, and implementing virtual tours and transfers are all solutions that are here to stay. And, to go further in terms of operations, consider the potential for using green energy to heat offices, reduce non-essential travel and offset the environmental cost of travel – both within and outside the country. ‘foreigner. This can be done through initiatives that help plant trees around the world – like TravelPerk – alongside a sustainability “code of conduct” to ensure everyone meets company commitments.

Of course, as a global population – not to mention an industry – we still have a long way to go. But as the people behind buildings that might outlive us all, it’s our responsibility to create them with a strong future in mind.

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