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Sustainable Office Design: Can Eco-Friendly Still Be Beautiful?
By Harper Reid
There are many misconceptions about sustainable office design—with one of the most common myths being that eco-friendly offices can't be as good looking. However, going green certainly doesn't mean you have to compromise aesthetics. Architects and green interior designers are constantly finding innovative ways to design beautiful, functional offices in a responsible way. More and more, we see successful examples of green architecture that have minimal impact on the environment yet maintain elegance and style. Here are three key tips to design a beautiful, sustainable office.
1. Design for Efficiency
Energy efficiency is a top priority within sustainable office design, with the general goal to reduce energy consumption and waste as much as possible. When designing an energy-efficient office, take into consideration the heating, air conditioning, refrigeration and plumbing systems, as well as your choice of office equipment. And don't forget to kit out your office with energy-saving light bulbs—many commercial businesses find that electric lighting is their highest culprit of energy usage.
While LED lighting is one great choice for eco-friendly lighting, offices with generous access to natural light save money on daytime lighting and create a healthier working environment for employees. Exposure to sunlight and the outdoors have been proven to have mental health benefits—which in turn help to keep employees performing at their best. Designing an open office plan with large windows is the best way to maximize the sunlight coming into the building. Frame these big windows with elegant drapes to add instant style and drama to your space.
2. Use Sustainable Materials
Furniture designers and manufacturers are finding creative new ways to repurpose old furniture and make effective use of recycled or recyclable materials. Choosing repurposed, reusable, recycled or recyclable materials are great solutions for creating an eco-friendly office space. This protects the environment, saves money, and is better than choosing trendy, un-recyclable pieces that will end up in landfill.
Most traditional types of office furniture—such as desks, tables and bookcases—contain wood, whether as the primary structure or veneer layers of wood. Wooden furniture has a classic, timeless look that compliments most workspaces beautifully. But using wooden furniture can be incredibly damaging to our forests and ecosystem if the raw materials were not obtained responsibly. Look for furniture with a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification to ensure the wood has been sustainably harvested.
3. Bring in the Outdoors
One powerful way to make an office eco-friendly and stylish is to grow a green wall. Green walls, also known as "living walls," are walls covered with plants grown with their own hydroponics system. A green wall is a great option for any business that wants to make a strong visual statement while reaping the benefits of plants. A beautifully designed green wall can transform the look of any room, adding natural color and texture that doesn't go out of style. Plants can also provide better air quality, which is an important component of a healthy and sustainable office environment. Green walls can be grown both indoors and outdoors.
Eco-friendly offices don't have to look boring or bland. With the growing popularity of eco-friendly design, there are now more options than ever to create beautiful, dynamic offices spaces that are good for workers and the environment.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer and keen gardener from Auckland, New Zealand who specializes in penning articles about nature, lifestyle and design. You can find more of Harper's work on Tumblr.
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