In our quest for greener workspaces, we’ve gathered twelve sustainable office design practices from industry experts, including CEOs and Founders. From encouraging the use of reusable mugs and cups to integrating larger windows for better light and air, these professionals reveal how their eco-friendly choices are making a real environmental impact. Here are 12 sustainable office design practices to implement:

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  • Encourage Reusable Mugs and Cups
  • Adopt Polished Concrete for Natural Lighting
  • Insulate and Utilize Windows in Workspaces
  • Embrace a Remote Work Model
  • Implement Auto-Off Monitors
  • Incorporate Biophilic Design Elements
  • Use Reclaimed Materials and Energy-Efficient Lighting
  • Install Smart Water-Efficient Bathroom Fixtures
  • Choose Green Cleaning Products and Practices
  • Source Recycled and Locally Sourced Materials
  • Adopt a Paperless Office Strategy
  • Integrate Larger Windows for Light and Air

Encourage Reusable Mugs and Cups

In our office, we’re committed to doing our part for the environment. One way we’re doing this is by encouraging everyone to bring their own reusable mugs and cups for coffee and tea. This simple change has had a big impact. 

We’ve significantly reduced our reliance on disposable cups, which help cut down on waste going to landfills and reduce the environmental impact of their production and disposal.

Beth Worthy, Cofounder and President, GMR Transcription Services, Inc.

Adopt Polished Concrete for Natural Lighting

In my role at Topcoat Services USA LLC, where we specialize in polished concrete and epoxy flooring solutions, we’ve integrated sustainable design principles that significantly reduce environmental impact. One standout example of an eco-friendly practice we’ve adopted is the use of polished concrete floors. Polished concrete is not only aesthetically versatile and durable but also promotes energy conservation because of its inherent ability to enhance natural lighting. Its reflective surface amplifies both natural and artificial light, reducing the need for excessive lighting during the day, which leads to diminished energy consumption and a lower carbon footprint for office spaces. 

During a recent project, we utilized polished concrete in an office redesign that saw a remarkable improvement in natural lighting efficiency. This strategic choice contributed to a substantial reduction in the building’s overall energy usage. Additionally, we incorporate materials like recycled glass and crushed stone into the polished concrete, further enhancing its sustainability credentials and providing a visually appealing finish that does not compromise on design or environmental responsibility. 

Through our work at Topcoat Services, we have proven that selecting materials with a lower environmental impact, such as polished concrete, directly contributes to creating sustainable, long-lasting, and cost-effective office spaces. This approach not only meets the demands of modern aesthetics but also aligns with the broader goals of environmental conservation and reduced operational costs, showcasing that sustainable practices can lead to significant benefits for both our clients and the planet.

Henry Hunt, Manager and Co-Owner, Topcoat Services

Insulate and Utilize Windows in Workspaces

We focus on insulating the office area. Getting the energy use right in office spaces is really important, and how well they’re insulated is a big part of that. Insulation is mostly there to keep the place at a comfortable temperature, but it also helps make the office quieter, healthier, and safer. Good insulation prevents so much heat from moving through the walls, which saves energy and makes the office more comfortable.

We also set up work areas near the windows so people can use natural light instead of needing as much electric light. For lighting that’s better for the environment, we go with either compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or LED lights.

Billy Litmer, Founder, Honest Eco

Embrace a Remote Work Model

I’m the leader of a company in the solar energy sector, and our company has embraced a fully remote work model, recognizing its profound benefits for both our team and the environment.

By operating remotely, we significantly reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need for daily commutes, thereby lowering greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation. Moreover, our remote work setup allows us to optimize energy usage, as traditional office spaces typically consume substantial amounts of electricity for lighting, heating, and cooling. 

Embracing remote work not only promotes a healthier work-life balance for our employees but also aligns with our commitment to sustainability, demonstrating how technology and innovation can pave the way for a greener future.

Robert Roth, CEO, Quote For Solar Group, Inc.

Implement Auto-Off Monitors

It’s a small change, but having monitors turn off after a fairly short timer—rather than staying on for a few minutes playing a screensaver—is simple. It takes five minutes to enable across the enterprise and does have at least some impact on your energy usage and ecological impact, especially if you’re a big organization with a few thousand computers running at any one time. Having this as a default option should be standard in most offices, in my opinion, as I’ve yet to find any sort of downside.

Dragos Badea, CEO, Yarooms

Incorporate Biophilic Design Elements

In our pursuit of sustainable office design, we’ve embraced biophilic elements by incorporating living walls and indoor gardens throughout the workspace. These green features enhance air quality and create a calming ambiance and contribute to improved employee well-being and productivity. 

By fostering a connection with nature within our office environment, we’ve reduced our reliance on energy-intensive heating and cooling systems, while promoting a healthier and more sustainable workplace.

Robin Luo, Founder, ICRFQ

Use Reclaimed Materials and Energy-Efficient Lighting

At Bonsai Builders, an integral part of our mission is to incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly practices into our construction projects, including office designs. A prime example of this dedication is our focus on using reclaimed and recycled materials whenever possible. This practice not only reduces the environmental impact associated with extracting and processing virgin materials but also contributes to the character and story of the office spaces we create. For instance, in a recent office build, we utilized reclaimed wood for flooring and accent walls, which not only offered an aesthetically pleasing rustic charm but also significantly lowered the project’s carbon footprint.

Additionally, we’ve integrated energy-efficient lighting systems into our office designs. By adopting LED lighting and incorporating natural light strategies through smart architectural design, we have achieved a dual goal: enhancing the wellness and productivity of the office occupants while considerably reducing energy consumption. One particular office renovation project saw a reduction in lighting energy use by up to 70%, showcasing the tangible benefits of such sustainable design choices.

Moreover, we prioritize the use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and eco-friendly building materials in all our projects. This approach safeguards the health of the office users by improving indoor air quality, alongside minimizing harmful environmental emissions. In a comprehensive office buildout, we substantially improved the air quality within the space, leading to heightened employee satisfaction and productivity, as evidenced by feedback from our client post-occupancy.

Through these practices and projects, Bonsai Builders demonstrates that integrating sustainable and eco-friendly practices isn’t just beneficial for the environment; it also adds value to the business by improving operational efficiencies, ensuring the health of occupants, and fortifying the brand’s commitment to sustainability. Our approach underscores the conviction that well-thought-out design and construction choices can yield profound environmental benefits while enhancing the overall aesthetic and functional quality of office spaces.

Kristin Hintlian, Owner, Bonsai Builders

Install Smart Water-Efficient Bathroom Fixtures

As someone with experience in integrated facility management and a strong background in environmental sustainability, one eco-friendly practice I’ve integrated into office design projects is the adoption of smart bathroom technologies. Specifically, the installation of water-efficient fixtures like low-flow faucets and toilets, along with smart monitoring systems, can significantly reduce water usage. These technologies lower the environmental footprint by conserving water and reduce operational costs substantially.

In one project I oversaw, we implemented smart restroom technology from TRAX Analytics, which included smart restroom management systems. This move led to a remarkable 30% reduction in water usage within the first year of operation. Moreover, by analyzing data collected from these smart systems, we were able to identify further areas for efficiency improvements, which greatly contributed to the building’s overall sustainability goals.

Another significant impact of integrating these sustainable practices was seen in achieving higher LEED certification levels for the buildings. By focusing on water efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality, the projects I have worked on have successfully earned higher LEED points, thus demonstrating a tangible commitment to sustainability. For example, one of our renovated buildings achieved LEED Gold certification, highlighting the effectiveness of incorporating smart, eco-friendly solutions into office designs.

From my experience, making the switch to greener office designs is not just about contributing to environmental preservation, but also about setting a new standard in the facilities management industry. It’s about proving that with the right technologies and practices, offices can become pioneers in sustainability, leading to healthier environments for employees and reduced operational costs for businesses.

Tracy Davis, Founder and CEO, TRAX Analytics, LLC.

Choose Green Cleaning Products and Practices

In my tenure as CEO of Millennium Facility Services, my team and I have recognized the critical importance of incorporating sustainable and eco-friendly practices into our facility management and cleaning services, particularly focusing on reducing environmental impact. 

One noteworthy initiative we have implemented is our emphasis on green cleaning products and practices as part of our Millennium SafeGuard Process™. This approach ensures the health and safety of the facility users and significantly minimizes the ecological footprint of our cleaning operations. By selecting eco-friendly cleaning agents and tools, we have effectively reduced the use of hazardous chemicals, diminishing airborne toxins and promoting healthier indoor air quality across various facilities.

Moreover, our commitment extends to embrace innovation and continuous improvement in eco-friendly practices. For instance, we have adopted microfiber technology for cleaning applications, a method that notably reduces water usage and chemical consumption. 

Microfiber mops and cloths are designed to be more efficient at capturing dirt and microbes, often requiring less cleaning solution or even just water to be effective. This switch has not only resulted in superior cleaning outcomes but has also significantly slashed our environmental impact by reducing the reliance on chemical cleaners and lessening water waste. Analyzing the data collected from these practices allows us to further refine our sustainability efforts and demonstrate quantifiable environmental benefits, including a noticeable reduction in water and chemical use across client sites.

The journey toward sustainability also involves our personnel directly. We’ve instituted comprehensive training programs focused on eco-friendly cleaning practices, ensuring our staff is well-versed in the latest sustainable methods and technologies. This continuous education helps in fostering a culture of environmental responsibility within our team, which translates directly to the services provided to our clients. 

By making sustainability a core aspect of our business model, we’ve not only seen improvements in client satisfaction and operational efficiency but have also contributed positively to the wider community’s environmental well-being. In conclusion, our proactive approach to integrating sustainable practices into our operations exemplifies our commitment to environmental stewardship while maintaining the highest standards of facility services.

Austin Jones, CEO, Millennium Facility Services

Source Recycled and Locally Sourced Materials

One of the key eco-friendly practices we’ve implemented is the extensive use of recycled and locally sourced materials in our office construction and furnishings. From the recycled steel used in our building’s framework to the reclaimed-wood desks and chairs, our commitment to sustainability has minimized our project’s environmental impact and supported local businesses. This approach has also inspired our team to be more mindful of waste reduction and resource conservation.

Mark Sheng, Project Engineer, DoDo Machine

Adopt a Paperless Office Strategy

Adopting a paperless strategy may seem like a modest move, but it can have a significant impact. A company’s broader sustainability strategy development plan must include going paperless. Companies can use cloud-computing services to store documents and data. This corporate greening tactic can reduce paper use while increasing productivity at work. 

It also allows you to access it from anywhere, which facilitates information sharing and collaboration. You may choose recycled paper as a sustainable substitute for paper-based enterprises. Reducing waste, conserving energy, and reducing deforestation are some of the positive environmental impacts of becoming paperless.

Manobal Jain, Founder, Trainerfu

Integrate Larger Windows for Light and Air

As a brand, one sustainable and eco-friendly practice that we have integrated into our office design, which has also helped us improve and boost employee well-being and productive efficiency, is exposing more of our office workspace to natural lighting and ventilation. This practice has helped us reduce our dependence on electric lighting and our dependence on electric heating and cooling systems, which ‌has equally helped reduce our electricity costs.

The implementation of bigger, opening windows in the office space has also helped us improve our indoor air quality, while making it easier for employees to enjoy the soothing and calming effect of not being completely shut out from nature’s therapeutic presence. This is particularly beneficial because, as a brand located in a suburban area, bigger windows keep nature’s greenery ever in view.

Andrew Johnson, General Manager, Drughelpline