As the world becomes increasingly aware of the impact of human activity on the environment, it's more important than ever to consider the ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint and minimize waste, both in our personal lives and at work. 

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the industry and buildings sectors, which include offices, were responsible for around 34% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019. With more businesses returning to the office full-time after the pandemic, it is no surprise that organisations are placing a high priority on sustainable office design in 2023. 

In this article, we will be taking you through a guide on how to design a sustainable office space without compromising on functionality or aesthetics.

Establish your sustainability objectives

Setting out clear objectives for the level of sustainability you want to achieve with your office space is integral to its success. There is a big difference between wanting to make your office more energy efficient and striving to achieve a SKA, or similar environmental rating.

Understanding your sustainability objectives before beginning the design process will help structure your programme, as well as save you money and time in the long run.

FSC Accredited wooden office furniture

Designing a more sustainable office space

Once your objectives have been laid out, you can begin to design an office space that is in line with your environmental goals. 

There are plenty of innovative ways to prioritise sustainability in your office design without compromising on style and functionality. These include:

Choose locally sourced building materials and office furniture suppliers

There are several reasons why selecting a local material or furniture supplier for your office design is important in achieving a truly sustainable space:

  • Reduced carbon footprint: Locally sourced materials require less energy to transport, which reduces the overall carbon footprint of your office.
  • Supporting local economy: By choosing local suppliers, you can support the local economy and contribute to sustainable development.
  • Quality and availability: Local suppliers are more likely to have a better understanding of the local climate and building standards and may be able to provide materials that are better suited to the specific environment.

Choose office furniture made from eco-friendly materials

Deciding on the right office furniture for your workspace can be a complex process. There’s so much to consider, especially if you’re looking to embed environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) practices into your office design.

In order to improve the sustainability of your office design project, the eco-credentials of your office furniture should be an important consideration. Choosing furniture that is made from environmentally responsible and renewable materials is a perfect way to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility and reduce your environmental impact.

Some eco-friendly office furniture materials include:

  • Stone Wool: Stone wool is made from 100% natural stone, a durable multi-purpose material that is functional, and sustainable.
    • 100% plastics free. Made from natural stone.
    • Contains no harmful materials and is not classified as an irritating material.
    • Stone wool is incombustible. Fire class A1.
  • FSC Woods: A FSC (Forest Stewardship Certification) is an environmental certification given to wood that is sourced from responsibly managed forests in the most environmentally sustainable way possible, including water and energy use, as well as the end product's overall environmental rating. Sourcing office furniture from a manufacturer that works with FSC wood is a great way to lower the overall carbon footprint of your office space.
  • Recycled Fabrics: Sourcing textiles made from waste plants and plastics; is a great way to contribute to the reduction of waste pollution. Some fabrics made from recycled materials include:
    • Natural hemp, silk, and flax fabrics made from plant stem fibres offer a sustainable, renewable, functional, and fully fire-retardant solution for modern office spaces.
    • Fabrics made from marine plastic waste ensure a cleaner ocean and environment without compromising on durability or functionality.
office furniture made from recycled plastics

Invest in durable, multi-functional office furniture

When incorporating furniture into your office design, it is important to select high-quality, durable, and functional pieces. Investing in long-lasting furniture is more sustainable because it helps to reduce resource consumption, minimize waste, and support long-term cost-effectiveness.

Durable furniture is often built with high-quality materials that can withstand prolonged use and can be repurposed and reused when no longer needed. This removes the need for them to be repaired or replaced as frequently, reducing the environmental impact associated with manufacturing new furniture and disposing of old furniture.

Multi-functional furniture, on the other hand, is designed to serve multiple purposes and therefore can be used in different ways and in different parts of the office. For example, our height-adjustable desks including the  Flexure and Wolfe, provide endless opportunities for flexibility whilst offering maximum strength for minimum weight allowing you to make better use of the space and reduce the need for additional furniture.

height adjustable sustainable desk

Install Energy-Efficient office lighting that is solar-powered or LED

One simple yet effective office design element to include for a sustainable workspace is LED or solar-powered lights. These types of lighting use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent or fluorescent lighting, giving them a longer lifespan. This means they do not have to be replaced as often and reduce the need for overconsumption of energy resources.

If you want to go a step further with your sustainable office design, solar-powered lighting is an ideal solution. Solar-powered lighting is powered by a completely renewable energy source, meaning it does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions or contribute to air pollution. Opting for solar-powered lighting will reduce the overall carbon footprint of your office, as well as save you money on operating costs.

Incorporate biophilic elements element into the office design

Biophilic design is a design philosophy that incorporates natural elements, patterns, and processes into the built environment. The goal of biophilic design is to create spaces that connect people to nature and promote well-being. Biophilic design includes a variety of strategies, such as incorporating natural light, plants, and outdoor views into buildings, using natural materials, and mimicking natural patterns and processes in the built environment.

Examples of biophilic design elements include:

  • Incorporating natural light, plants, and outdoor views into buildings
  • Using natural materials such as wood and stone in construction and decor
  • Creating spaces that mimic natural patterns and processes, like water features or green roofs
  • Designing buildings and spaces that incorporate natural shapes and forms
  • Creating spaces for socializing and relaxation that incorporate nature.

Research has shown that biophilic design can have a positive impact on human health and well-being, by reducing stress and improving mood, cognitive function, and creativity. However, biophilic design also has many benefits for the environment and for the sustainability value of your office.

Incorporating biophilic elements into your office improves sustainability by reducing the need for artificial lighting and heating, which can help to lower energy consumption and reduce the building's carbon footprint. This also helps to improve indoor air quality and promote a healthier work environment for employees.

biophilic office furniture

What are the benefits of incorporating sustainable office design elements?

Other than reducing carbon emissions, implementing sustainable office design elements has many other notable benefits, both for employees and business owners. These include:

  • Reduced energy bills.
  • Improved employee well-being and morale.
  • Improved reputation.
  • A functional and long-lasting office space.
  • Higher employee and client retention.

Sustainable office furniture from Haiken

At Haiken, we take our commitment to sustainability seriously.

As an eco-conscious team looking to make a difference, our goals are based both on science and sensibility and seek to provide immediate and long-term environmental outcomes. We strive to manufacture qualitative office furniture solutions with responsibly sourced materials that keep our planet, health, and future in mind.

Partner with us for your sustainable office design in 2023 and join us in our commitment to achieving a brighter, healthier future for all. Contact a member of the Haiken team today, to start your journey.