New guidance for designers on bridging energy performance gap

Evaluating operational energy performance of buildings at the design stage

So-called “low energy buildings” are increasingly being found to use more energy than their designers thought they would, with the performance of low energy designs often little better, and sometimes worse, than that of an older building they have replaced, or supplemented. This difference between expected and realised energy performance has come to be known as the “performance gap”.  To help address this problem, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has just issued new guidance on how to address operational energy use at the design stage. ‘TM54: Evaluating operational energy performance of buildings at the design stage’ is now available from the online CIBSE Knowledge Portal. More →

Willmott Dixon wins huge £19 million fit-out contract at University of Brighton

Cockroft Willmott DixonThe interiors division at construction and support services firm Willmott Dixon has secured its largest ever contract,  a project valued at around £19m to refurbish a 1960s teaching block for the University of Brighton. The work will include a complete refit of the building to create a 160,000 sq. ft. mixed use scheme in the ten-storey Cockroft building, including offices and IT facilities. The project was procured through the IESE framework and Willmott Dixon is working with a team that includes Fraser Brown MacKenna, Mott MacDonald, Curtins Consulting and Burnley Wilson. The interiors division has announced that it intends to raise its turnover to £125m within three years across a range of projects in the office, retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

New report urges UK’s large organisations to adopt more flexible working

Omnicorp logoThe UK’s large organisations are missing out on some of the opportunities presented to them by mobile working methodologies according to a new survey from Deloitte and (what else?) telecoms provider EE. The Upwardly Mobile report questioned more than 1,000 employees of firms with more than 1,000 staff including Kier, Royal Mail, Oxfam and BP and found that this situation would change as Generation Y employees assumed the power needed to introduce a more flexible working culture. The report goes on to predict that by 2016, at least one FTSE 350 company will have a Gen Y CEO at the helm.

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Worldwide space standards moving closer to UK norm, claims new report

ShrinkingWorldwide office space standards are now moving closer to the norm seen in the UK according to a new survey from CoreNet Global. According to the CoreNet survey of real estate managers, the average amount of space per office worker globally has dropped to 150 sq. ft (14 sq.m.) , from 225 sq. ft. (21 sq.m.). This is still well outside the standards from the British Council for Offices Specification Guide which reported a fall to 11.8 sq. m. in 2009 and which will be revised downwards even further with the publication of the new guide which has been promised soon.  Even this figure might be seen as high and makes assumptions about the relevance of such space standards given the way some firms now work.

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New online survey will explore the psychology of collaboration spaces

psychHerman Miller is sponsoring the next stage of Research into the Psychology of Collaboration Spaces being carried out by Dr Nigel Oseland of Workplace Unlimited The key methodology is an online survey which determines your personality profile and collaboration preferences. To enter the survey click here. The research stems from a literature review that Nigel conducted on behalf of Herman Miller last year. For a copy of the previous research report please click here for a summary or the full paper. The survey takes around 15 minutes to complete. Participants  will receive a copy of the new research report and an invitation to a seminar of the research findings. You may also enter a prize draw for a Herman Miller Mirra chair and Workplace Trends conference tickets. The survey closes on Friday 16th August.

100% Design announces new collaboration with Design Guild Mark

Mir by Mark Gabbertas for Chorus Furniture

Mir by Mark Gabbertas for Chorus Furniture

The UK’s largest and longest running contemporary design event 100% Design has announced a new collaboration with The  Furniture  Makers  Company  to  promote  British  design  excellence through the Design Guild Mark. The Design Guild Mark was introduced by The Furniture  Makers Company  in 2008 to recognises excellence in the design of mass produced furniture in the UK. Ten of the products which earned a Design Guild Mark will be exhibited at 100% Design this year including products from designers such as Barber Osgerby, Terry Hunt, Mark Gabbertas and James Irvine.

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Predicting the future of the office means looking at what is happening now

display_img_01Futurology is notoriously a mug’s game. Especially when it comes to making predictions about technology. Just ask Ken Olson, the founder of DEC who in 1977 pronounced that ‘there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home’. Or Bill Gates himself who once claimed that Microsoft ‘will never make a 32 bit operating system’. Most recently Steve Ballmer, a billionaire executive said in 2007 ‘there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.’ But mone of these retrosepctively viewed dodgy predictions should make us blind to those that we know will certainly come true, especially those based on what we know is happening in the present.

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Dual source lighting schemes illuminate the way ahead for office design

Element790_Siemens2_MToo bright, too dull, too much glare – lighting (alongside air conditioning) is often one of the most contentious factors in a workplace. Office workers need illumination to read, write, type and interact. Yet many workplaces get it wrong and fail to consider the downsides of poor lighting, and as such staff will suffer from eye strain, headaches and postural problems, leading to sick days, not to mention lost productivity and mistakes. Eighty per cent of office workers experience at least one negative effect from poor quality lighting, according to researchers Bruskin Goldring, and 68 per cent of employees complain about the light in their offices, according to a study by the American Society of Interior Designers.

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Plans to redevelop London’s Smithfield Market are given the green light

SmithfieldThe much talked about plans to redevelop Smithfield market have been given the green light by City of London planners. As we reported earlier this year, the development in the heart of a London district renowned for its creative industries, including many of the UK’s leading workplace design studios, has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny and controversy. Now the City of London’s planning and transport committee has voted to approve the scheme designed by John McAslan + Partners. Most of the objections were made by campaigners based on the heritage of the historic site.

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The challenge in Silicon Alley is providing the right quantity and quality of office space

M4 Silicon AlleyNews emerges from BNP Paribas that the most dynamic occupiers in Western European property markets belong to the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sector and that the most important market in the region is London. This comes as no surprise given the plans of Google to move to its new home in King’s Cross and the focus on developments in Tech City. But the same hothousing of TMT businesses is also evident in the area Prime Minister David Cameron has referred to as Silicon Alley, a cluster of businesses running alongside the M4 originally clustered between Reading and Swindon but now extending as far as Bristol. Companies that have found a home in the area include the likes of Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Ericsson, Vodafone, O2, Citrix, Dell, Huawei, Lexmark, LG, Novell, Nvidia, Panasonic, SAP and Symantec not to mention the countless other smaller businesses, consultants and freelancers that share this hothouse.

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Round meeting tables enhance workplace consensus and collaboration

Round table layout improves workplace consensus and collaboration

The Knights of the Round Table may be the stuff of legend but it seems King Arthur was on to something, for a new study reveals that people sitting in a circular formation at round meeting tables are more likely to want to ‘belong’ to a group and are less prone to be antagonistic. By contrast, the research from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business found that people seated in an angular arrangement – i.e. “The Boardroom” in Sir Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice – are more likely to look out for number one.  “The geometric shape of a seating arrangement can act as a subtle environmental cue for people, by priming their fundamental need for inclusiveness or individuality,” says Sauder Assistant Professor Juliet Zhu, who co-authored the forthcoming study to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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Personalised design and office plants proven to boost wellness and performance

Personalised design coupled with office plants boost well-being at workAllowing staff to make design decisions in a workspace enhanced with office plants can increase wellbeing and wellness by as much as 47 per cent, increase creativity by 45 per cent and increase productivity by 38 per cent, new research has revealed. Visitors at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show were challenged to take part in the study which measured their creativity, happiness and productivity as they experienced a range of different workspace designs. The findings, which would be expected to translate to a significant increase in business profitability, confront the popular belief that plants and art are an unnecessary or even wasteful element of the business environment. Results from this and related scientific investigations indicate that across all measures of psychological comfort and business performance, the managerially popular flexible, controlled, lean office, is consistently inferior to a space enriched by the design decisions of people who work there.

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