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IS THE MODERN WORKPLACE A SUSTAINABLE ONE?

Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2019/12

Workplace

​Sustainability is a hot topic right now and for a good reason. According to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the construction sector uses more than 400 million tons of material each year, much of which is harming the environment. And, if we continue as we are now, CO2 emissions from buildings will increase 150 per cent by mid-century. 

Undoubtedly, things need to change dramatically if we want to protect our planet. Luckily, increased knowledge and awareness of the impact of our actions, coupled with advancements in technology are providing greater opportunities to reduce energy use and emissions.

A survey of more than 2,000 architecture, engineering, and construction professionals by Dodge Data & Analytics reported that 47 per cent of industry professionals expect more than 60 per cent of their projects to be “green” by 2021.

New buildings across Europe are implementing fascinating ways to tackle some of the world’s biggest environmental problems. For example, Deloitte’s The Edge HQ was built to follow the pathway of the sun and has over 30,000 sensors measuring building occupancy and internet levels for ultimate sustainability. 

Here, we look at three of the crucial elements that go into creating a greener building in 2020 and beyond. 
Smart Workplaces

Given that commercial buildings consume a high proportion of the world’s energy, smart appliances are a crucial element of any sustainable construction project. Energy-saving and self-sufficient appliances such as SmartGrid dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines can go a long way in conserving energy. The lack of human intervention means that these technologies require little involvement or labour, increasing workforce productivity and ensuring the average working impacts the environment a little less.

Energy Analysis

Analysis of potential energy use and daylighting is crucial in achieving a green building at every stage of the design process. For example, ensuring there’s as much natural light as possible throughout a building reduces the use of electricity for lighting (except in locations with particularly hot weather where excessive sunlight can increase the heat load so much that air conditioning is required). Architects and engineers can make such calculations using Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other energy-analysis tools which offer optimal solutions. 

Solar power

In green construction, solar power can be used in two ways: 

  • Active solar power

  • Passive solar power

This brings us nicely onto electronic smart glass, which is a new technology that shuts out the heat of the sun. The glass uses tiny electric signals to charge the windows to change the amount of solar radiation it reflects. It’s incorporated into a building’s control system, so users can choose the amount of solar radiation they want to block. Such technology can save a lot on heating, ventilating, and air conditioning costs. 

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