Why Go Green?
Workplaces across the world are embracing green design as part of an initiative to improve their bottom line.
Sustainability has long been seen as a ‘nice to have’ for many companies, but in recent times, it has become high on the agenda of many companies who are recognising a return on the investment of including living elements into their workplaces.
Companies like Alsco provide green solutions like the environmentally friendly, cotton continuous towel. These reusable towels which come in their own cabinet system, use less energy, produce less greenhouse gasses and less waste. Go Green with Alsco Continuous Towel
Companies like PodPlants provide living vertical gardens and biophilic design consulting to predominantly corporate, retail and hospitality clients. They work with designers and architects to create spaces which develop an environment where people can do their best work.
So What Are The Driving Mechanisms That Are Creating This Demand?
Globally, we are seeing a mass urbanisation with the best talent being attracted to leading employers who typically occupy premium and A grade real estate. Cities are becoming increasingly dense with taller buildings and new land being opened up to higher density development and more people working in less square meters.
For example, in Sydney, Australia the new Barangarro development is seeing tenants like Westpac, HSBC and PwC taking prime position and using ‘open plan’ and ‘activity based working’ designs. The upshot is that now only 10 square meters of floor space per person is required where previously 15 square meters was the norm.
Additionally, buildings are taller and therefore have more floors and thus more floor space, and the ground the buildings stand on is new corporate real estate adding to the city’s size. So when we think about a development like Barangaroo which are common in many capital cities, they actually represent a huge increase in the number of people who can work in the city.
The result in the short term will be mass vacancy in old premises and the requirement of refurbishment or rebuilding to attract new tenants. Leading property groups know that innovative companies – synonymous with Silicon Valley – grow fast, have young CEO’s and like innovation and health.
Pitching commercial space to this new generation of corporate leaders must reflect what they want in a space – perfect painted plasterboard no longer cuts it. These new tenants demand natural light, living plants, innovative design and integrated technology.
The new thinking around green ‘biophilic‘ design stems from a mixture of logic, evolutionary biology, and academic research. We have seen more and more people self educating themselves on the importance of avoiding airborne pollutants and living healthier lives.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which are slowly released from paints and plastics can be carcinogenic and once you know they’re there smell bad. People are understanding human evolution better and embracing paleo and whole food diets because they simply know that whatever people have been doing since 100,000’s of years must be roughly what our bodies are adapted to need.
Natural sunlight, fresh air, a holiday to a beach or a bush walk all make us feel good and are probably the best things for us.
The Positive Effect of Plants In The Workplace
And academics across the world are studying how people perform in memory function and cognitive performance tests when plants are present or not present in rooms, offices and even classrooms! Yes… Children’s grades at school do go up when they have some plants in the room.
Well, it is our belief that people have a subconscious emotional response to their environment which motivates them. If the plants are dead, or worse non existent, this could be a pretty good reason to be stressed if your survival relies on the plants for food and shelter. If plants are healthy and abundant, then the odds are your survival is not under much threat.
The result is stress to motivate us to find greener pastures and calm to allow us to stay and enjoy the abundance of our environment.
As an employee in the modern world, being calm and happy at work might simply be the emotional cue that one needs to decide to stay with an employer and engage more deeply in their work, and stress could be the reason one quits their job and searchers for somewhere they can enjoy their work more.
There are many reasons far beyond the scope of this article as to why green is becoming good economic sense. But if it is no more than reduced absenteeism and even reduced ‘presenteeism’ (to be physically present but mentally absent) then this alone is enough for management to recognise that spending money on a nice interior fit out and some living plants are a very wise investment.
Alsco would like to thank Chris Wilkins for this article. Chris Wilkins is the CEO of PodPlants which develops horticultural technology for sustainable infrastructure. Chris is an Executive Board Member of The Interior Plantscape Association and a guest lecturer and tutor at The University of Sydney. Visit www.podplants.com to learn more about indoor plants and vertical gardens that you can incorporate in your workplace.
Image Courtesy: PodPlants.com