September 18, 2014
World Green Building Week 2014 takes place next week (22 – 27 September) with the theme for this year of ‘Get up, Green up’. Created in 2009 to promote a more connected, more interactive, and more public conversation around the role buildings play in creating a sustainable future, this year’s WGBW will feature a range of events held around the world; including Australia, US, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates. On Monday 22 September, as part of WGBW, UK-GBC is hosting a webinar looking at the Ökobau.dat, the German National LCA database for construction, and on Wednesday 24 the global launch event of the WorldGBC ‘Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: the next chapter for green building‘ report, which looks at health, wellbeing and productivity in offices, following an extensive project involving over 50 industry experts from around the world. …more
September 17, 2014
Increased pressure on London rents are being predicted as the latest figures by DTZ show the availability of office space in central London is now 20 per cent lower than the same period in 2013, and 30 per cent below the 10 year average. While London office take up rose by 17 per cent over the same period in 2013, all Central London markets, except the South East fringe, are seeing year-on-year decreases in supply of at least 15 per cent. The North West fringe, the Docklands and the West End have seen the biggest falls in availability over the past 12 months (down 53%, 36% and 30% respectively) with availability in the City falling by 17 per cent over the same time period. A significant development has been the availability of second hand space falling by a third (33%) to 5.6 million sq ft over the past 12 months – 47 per cent below the ten year average. …more
September 16, 2014
Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
The modern workplace has to work harder than ever before. It must reflect corporate values, express something of the organisation’s brand, allow people to work to the best of their ability as well as look after their wellbeing, keep touch with the pace of changing technology and meet the demands of an ever changing legislative environment and keep costs down. All of these issues conflate around the challenge of providing a sustainable, comfortable and productive working environment in buildings that are filled with an increasing number of people and computers. It is estimated by the Building Research Establishment that even in a typical office each person and their technology will generate some 1500 W of energy per hour, the equivalent of the sort of fan heater that the EU is now keen to ban outright.
September 16, 2014
Ten or so years ago an office seating manufacturer commissioned me to prepare a report on the games industry. The idea was to target a market the company had decided was primed to hear their message about ergonomics and the deleterious effects of long hours spent sitting and peering at a screen. Not only would this develop a new market for the business, it would also showcase a new product they had launched specifically to target a younger and hipper audience, even one that was overwhelmingly male. All of the elements of a successful campaign appeared to be there – the right product, a sedentary workforce that often worked around the clock to hit deadlines in an industry that epitomised youthful cool and was willing to spend money to prove it. Except one thing was missing; the people who worked in the industry weren’t worried about ergonomics and their long term wellbeing and most knew or suspected they’d be burned out and doing something else pretty soon anyway.
September 16, 2014
One of the key drivers for bringing a flexible working culture into the workplace is to accommodate the needs of the younger generation of ‘millennial’ workers who are perceived to view the idea of the traditional 9 to 5 as archaic. But this open-mindedness appears to waver when applied to other workers. A recent survey by employment specialists Doyle Clayton has found Generation Y employees have the most negative attitudes towards older employees and part-time and flexible workers; seeing their colleagues’ flexibility as coming at their own expense. The Age Before Beauty? Report warns that there shouldn’t be an assumption that initiatives to support flexible working will be welcomed by staff in their twenties and thirties. And while younger workers tended to be most likely to perceive discrimination at their workplace, they were also the most likely to exhibit negative attitudes towards equality, for example seeing older workers as less valuable because of their age. …more
September 16, 2014
One of the UK’s five main national examination boards is to introduce a range of workplace issues as part of its updated Psychology A Level syllabus from next year. Cambridge based OCR claims that Psychology is the UK’s fourth most popular subject at both A and AS level and is also one of the most popular subjects at degree level too. The issues will be introduced to the syllabus as part of an Environmental Psychology theme and will consider as issues such as the effects of allowing desk clutter on individual wellbeing (although it didn’t do much for Kanji Watanabe in Akira Kurosawa’s film Ikiru, above), gender roles in workstation personalisation and so on. Students will be expected to carry out their own research into the topics as well as draw on established sources of information. OCR also suggests that the subject may help to develop the emotional intelligence of those who take the subject.
September 15, 2014
The need for collaboration between all the professions working within the built environment was the overriding theme of a free seminar on BIM, hosted by RICS last week, reports RICS’ Schemes and Accreditation Manager Jon Klahn. The event featured speakers from quantity surveying, engineering and architecture, and was designed to help delegates learn more about BIM and RICS’ role in establishing BIM industry standards. Addressing the 80 plus attendees, Dr Anne Kemp FRICS, Director of BIM Strategy and Development at Atkins and Chair of ICE’s BIM Action Group said the various professions can no longer be driven by self-interest. BIM in itself is not the solution. But the change required to make BIM successful will ultimately allow for better construction, better buildings and a better environment. Successful BIM implementation requires a partnership of people, process and technology and for project teams to understand and appreciate each other’s roles as professionals. …more
September 15, 2014
Part of London’s planned cycling infrastructure around Parliament Square
New research has further highlighted the important role that the mode of transport we choose to get work has on our physical and psychological wellbeing. Walking or cycling to work is better for people’s mental health than driving to work, according to the research by health economists at the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR). The report ‘Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?’ was published today in the journal Preventive Medicine and draws on 18 years of data from 18,000 people. It follows on the heels of two other reports published last month in the British Medical Journal and Science Direct which make related claims about the careful choices we should make about how we get to work.
September 12, 2014
The UK commercial property sector grew for the 24th consecutive month in August, but at its weakest rate since May 2013. According to the latest Total Commercial Development Activity Index from Savills, which monitors the overall performance of the UK commercial property sector, the rate fell from +27.7% to +11.9% in August, the weakest expansion in 15 months. Commercial work continued to rise in the private and public sectors however, and despite growth slowing substantially in both cases, commercial developers in the UK remained optimistic. Anecdotal evidence linked this to positive expectations of increased public sector activity and client interest in new projects. Although solid overall, the growth of refurbishment activity in August was the least pronounced since May 2013 and following 17 successive months of growth, panellists reported stagnation in office fit-out activity as well. …more