Whether you can remember the mercury topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July 2022 or you saw green, barren slopes in the height of 2023’s ski season, there is tangible proof that our planet is under attack from man-made actions. Business owners, however, can commission a sustainable office refurbishment to redress the balance.

In this article, we’ll perform a deep dive into the reasons why a sustainable office refurbishment can really make a difference, what design features a sustainable office refurbishment should contain and the sustainable office refurbishment perks you may have overlooked.

How Sustainable Office Refurbishment Can Help

Office designs are more than just aesthetics. The specification that’s installed behind the scenes or part of the everyday can have a dramatic effect on a business’s energy efficiency and carbon emissions. A sustainable office refurbishment will address:-

  • Energy consumption
  • Water consumption
  • Indoor air quality
  • Waste production and recycling rates
  • Sustainable transport

As MPL’s office refurbishment services are offered on a ‘concept to completion’ basis, we can ensure sustainable practices underpin every aspect of the project, from start to finish.

DesignFeatures and Technologies for Sustainable Office Refurbishment

The design process of a sustainable office refurbishment is when we can pack in a number of features and technologies specifically aimed at improving eco credentials. More often than not, the following elements are included in MPL’s retail interior designs and commercial office specifications.

Energy-efficient lighting

The installation of LED bulbs is as standard but there are other ways to go the extra mile. PIR sensor lights that only come on when motion is detected are brilliant for washrooms, corridors and storage areas. When MPL is coming up with eco-friendly shop fit out solutions, we recommend any exterior/signage lighting is set on a timer.

HVAC systems and insulation

A MPL sustainable office refurbishment can include the most efficient air conditioning, ventilation and insulation. Sometimes grouped together as HVAC systems, we can specify the latest technology that will help keep spaces at the optimum temperature with the minimum amount of energy used and low emissions. We can also specify natural insulation, such as wool, cork and wood fibre.

Renewable energy systems

We always look to install renewable power sources in a sustainable office refurbishment. This may include heat pumps, photovoltaic solar panels, the latest green boilers, smart radiator thermostats and even wind turbines. Not only will this reduce spend on fuel, it can help businesses become carbon neutral.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures

Water saving plumbing fixtures are designed to reduce the amount of water that is used in any setting – and by as much as 60% when compared to standard fixtures. When it comes to shops, offices and commercial workplaces, this could include dual flush WCs, aerated taps and showerheads, and waterless urinals.

Energy efficient appliances

If your workplace features a communal kitchen with appliances, a sustainable office refurbishment should include the removal of poorly-performing items (recycled in accordance with the local council, of course), replacing these with appliances that possess the very best energy ratings (A+++ or A++). Particular attention should be paid to dishwashers, where energy and water consumption can be reduced.

Bike racks and showers

Corporate social responsibility and fighting climate change go hand-in-hand, and companies can influence how employees travel to and from work. Small additions, such as secure bike racks and a shower, can discourage over reliance on cars.

Green roofs and living walls

Green roofs and living walls fall firmly into the biophilic design category. As well as purifying the air and reducing stress levels among employees, flora and fauna can form the backbone of a sustainable office refurbishment. In addition, green roofs go a long way in increasing an area’s biodiversity and they can also increase levels of insulation.

Sustainable materials and finishes

Engaging with a sustainable office refurbishment doesn’t mean compromising in the style stakes. Interior manufacturers are stepping up their sustainability game to fuse eco consciousness with design credentials. MPL can specify the following:

  • natural fabrics, such as cotton, linen and bamboo, as well as fabrics dyed using natural pigments
  • FSC certified wood from sustainable sources
  • furniture made from recycled materials
  • non-toxic and low VOC paints
  • wallpaper made from recycled materials
  • fixtures, fittings and furniture manufactured in the UK for reduced air miles

Best Practices for Sustainable Office Refurbishment

If you want to establish how eco-friendly your current workplace is, ask your building/FM manager or managing agent for your current EPC certificate. Note that an A rating is the most energy efficient, while a G is the worst.

It’s worth remembering that Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for commercial buildings change from 1st April 2023. From this date, all tenanted commercial properties will have to achieve an E rating or less on their EPC, regardless of whether the tenancy is new. As detailed in this blog on the subject, Colliers claim that as many as 10% of London’s offices could be obsolete in their current state due to poor energy efficiency standards, making them unlettable in the future.

If your EPC is below an E, or you’d like to improve your grade, a sustainable office refurbishment is essential. The starting point will be an eco audit, which MPL is more than happy to carry out for you.

We may discover that your building is far too big for your needs. Downsizing is an underestimated way of being kinder to the environment as the maths is simple – a smaller square footage will take less power, heat and light to be operational.

If your sustainable office refurbishment involves expansion, remodelling or building from scratch, ensure you collaborate with architects and builders who share the same eco-friendly vision as you. If in any doubt, ask for examples of their work that have achieved LEED, BREEAM or WELL Building Standard® certification.

As a business, it is important to set sustainability goals with accompanying metrics. Following a sustainable facility management path will help ensure a building has a greatly reduced, or even neutral, impact on the environment. When it comes to changing employee habits, appointing a sustainability champion can help with communicating eco initiatives and improving habits, such as recycling and turning lights off.

The Benefits of Sustainable Office Refurbishment

Reduce operating costs

While there has been an energy price cap helping businesses manage their fuel bills, this ends on 1st April 2023. In its place will be reduced energy bill support for UK businesses. A sustainable office will use less gas and electricity, helping to offset unit price rises.

Attract eco-conscious customers

study into consumer intent carried out by OpenText suggests people are choosing who to buy from based on a company’s eco credentials. The research found that in the UK, 82% of consumers were likely to prioritise companies with ethical sourcing policies.

Attract better business partners

As climate change becomes a global emergency, more businesses want to make a difference by only working with accredited partners whose stance on sustainability aligns with theirs. If your company has B Corp, The Ethical Company Organisation, Planet Mark, FutureFit Business or ISO 14001 certification – all of which a sustainable office refurbishment will help you achieve – you will attract better business prospects.

Retain staff

As well as clients and customers using a company’s eco credentials to measure viability, employees are increasingly making decisions based on a business’s approach to sustainability. A 2019 survey by HP Workforce found 40% of participants said that they’d look for new jobs if their employers didn’t prioritise or engage in sustainability practices. A further 70% said they would stay with a company if it had a strong sustainability plan.

Attract new talent

The results of a new survey by Robert Walters recruitment agency, released in January 2023, revealed a third of Gen Z workers claim to have rejected a job offer because of a company's poor green credentials. Baby boomers (roughly those aged 55-73) were the next group most concerned about their employer’s green credentials.

Improve employee health and well-being

Green offices can improve overall health and wellbeing, as well as reduce carbon emissions and decrease fuel consumption. Healthy indoor environments – whether that’s cleaner air, thermal comfort and more natural light – contribute to employee happiness and can have a positive influence on productivity.

Add asset value

According to Dodge Data and Analytics, commercial workplaces and offices that have been built to be green - or where there has been a sustainable office refurbishment - command a 7% higher asset value than non-green buildings. This is an important factor when considering resale and relet values, especially in light of the new commercial EPC rules.

MPL Case Study: eco proof at No 5 The Heights

No 5 The Heights in Weybridge - a 15,000 sq feet commercial refit project of MPL’s - perfectly illustrates how we help clients with high sustainability standards. As well as requesting a very biophilic-led design, the client requested to see the green credentials of each supplier, and MPL was briefed to put an emphasis on the use of recycled materials.

While climate change has been a constant worry, the recent energy crisis has also brought fuel costs into sharp focus. As a result, clients, contractors and customers are actively seeking partners who share their sustainable approach and can help them fulfil their own eco ambitions.

So, with a sustainable office refurbishment having the potential to improve the health, wealth and prospects of a company – and the environment -  what are you waiting for? Contact MPL Interiors today to start planning.