March 31, 2014
A new report from the British Council for Offices claims that building owners could enjoy significant savings in their operating costs of up to £50 per square metre as well as improved staff productivity and wellbeing by investing in environmentally friendly offices and work practices. The research, Improving the Environmental Performance of Offices claims to illustrate the benefits of energy efficient offices and highlight the positive impact they can have on employee productivity. The report calls on building occupiers to focus on key areas such as benchmarking and monitoring their energy usage. The BCO believes there is already a shift in attitudes towards a greater understanding of how offices actually perform environmentally rather than simply how they are designed and that more and more businesses are waking up to specific issues such as how much energy their buildings use outside of office hours.
The report claims that while staff costs typically account for around 90 percent of business costs, dwarfing the 1 percent represented by energy and water costs, the report shows how greater attention on the latter can help improve staff productivity and therefore business performance. It suggests that improved energy efficiency may represent a saving of as much as £50 per square metre.
The report also suggests that occupant satisfaction is impacted by the environmental performance of offices, and it highlights the benefits of engaging occupiers when addressing energy efficiency issues.
By doing this, businesses can gain a clear understanding of the features that are valued by employees as well as those that negatively affect them. For instance, a complaint about glare could lead to the lighting control system being recommissioned. This sort of targeted investment, based on employee feedback, has the ability to transform productivity levels and return significant reductions in business costs.
Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the BCO, says: “This research shows that environmentally efficient offices have a positive impact on employee satisfaction, and as a result can lead to improved business performance. In order to reap the rewards, companies need to ensure their offices are delivering energy efficiency. It represents a significant shift in attitudes, whereby the actual environmental performance of buildings is in the spotlight and the industry has moved away from focusing on the planning, design and construction of offices as a way of assessing performance.”
‘Improving the Environmental Performance of Offices’ offers guidance on the following areas:
- Different sources for benchmarking data, including CIBSE’s TM22 and the Real Estate Environmental Benchmark (produced by Jones Land LaSalle and the Better Buildings Partnership)
- Ways to measure improvement such as degree-days (the amount of energy required to heat a building in a given location) and weekly gas meter readings
- Importance of collecting and evaluating feedback from occupiers through surveys
- Popular survey tools to carry out post-occupancy evaluations, such as the Leesman Index and the Building Use Studies (BUS) methodology