Incorporating ecological sustainability objectives and practices into office accommodation design and construction can deliver a healthy and ecologically sustainable workplace with reduced environmental risks. The scope of ecological sustainability, in office-accommodation terms, also includes the ongoing use of the workplace, as well as later changes to the fitout and its final removal and disposal.
The key sustainability issues that apply to the delivery of the fitout and to the ongoing occupancy of the workplace are:
- conserving of resources and heritage
- emission abatement for health protection.
An ecologically responsible approach to workplace occupancy and use involves:
- identifying the key factors that support ecological sustainability
- defining a sustainability policy containing a set of objectives
- developing a management system to implement the policy
- reviewing success against objectives and criteria.
In practical terms, sustainability in the workplace can be supported in the following ways:
- Selecting appropriate materials and products. Additional fitout materials (including furniture) introduced into the workplace should be selected for minimum ecological impact. Consumable products such as stationery, toner cartridges and general office supplies should be purchased according to their eco-friendliness. Office equipment such as computers, photocopiers, printers, facsimile machines and appliances should be selected based on sound ecological selection criteria, including:
- embodied energy
- operational energy efficiency
- ability to be disassembled and recycled.
- Effective waste management and recycling. An ecologically sustainable approach involves ‘reducing, reusing and recycling’. This means reducing the amount of goods used, reusing what is available, and recycling as much as possible. This approach will minimise waste and, together with selecting appropriate goods, can also minimise the ecological impact of waste.
- Positive ecological behaviour. Ecologically appropriate behaviour will contribute to energy and water conservation. Protocols such as switching off idle equipment and lighting, save energy and cost and can prolong equipment life. The responsible consumption of water is ecologically beneficial and cost-effective. The efficient use of work vehicles saves resources and minimises emissions. After hours working is generally very resource-demanding compared with the number of staff working and should be managed appropriately.
- Responsible maintenance and cleaning regimes. Contractor selection should include criteria such as a stated commitment to ecological sustainability and demonstrated performance. Materials used for maintenance and cleaning should be ecologically appropriate.
Workers should also consider transport to and from the workplace in ecological sustainability terms.
The Department of Housing and Public Works (HPW) has also developed a Waste reduction and recycling plan 2017 - 2020 (PDF, 152KB). Further information and expert advice is available from HPW.
8.1 Sustainability policies
HPW has a target to achieve a 5-star NABERS energy rating across all owned and leased properties by 2025 and additionally aims to have carbon-neutral buildings by 2050, as outlined in the state government’s Queensland Building Plan (PDF, 1MB) and the Climate Change Transition Strategy (PDF, 2.56MB).