New European Awards recognise leadership in sustainable building

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The first awards to recognise outstanding leadership in sustainable building in Europe have been launched by the World Green Building Council’s European Regional Network. The “WorldGBC Leadership Awards – Europe Region” will honour best practice and excellence in cities’ green building policy, as well as in construction projects and corporate initiatives across the continent. The awards feature three categories – Excellence in City Policy for Green Building, Leadership in Building Design and Performance, and Business Leadership in Sustainability – and are open to city councils and policy makers, projects and businesses. More →

Construction sector is digging its way out of recession

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Construction sector is digging its way out of recession

The UK’s Employment Outlook is looking firmly positive, according to ManpowerGroup, and it’s being driven by an upturn in construction and a buoyant London economy. “As we head into the summer months, the UK jobs market is not too hot, but not too cold either. It’s all about the Three ‘C’s:  Construction, the Capital, and Consistency,” said ManpowerGroup UK Managing Director, Mark Cahill. The first ‘C’ is for Construction, the most improved sector this quarter, up by five points, which is positive news as construction has been a huge drag on the whole UK economy, and is one of the main reasons we’ve had a double dip recession. Now ManpowerGroup reports it is starting to see rising demand for skills across the board, particularly in skilled trades and engineers. More →

British Land on track to meet targets on green building efficiency

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British Land on track to meet sustainability targets

British Land says it is on track to meet many of its 2015 targets on managing buildings efficiently, developing sustainable buildings and reducing carbon emissions. In its Corporate Responsibility Report for 2013, the real estate investment trust, which owns and manages a portfolio of commercial property worth £16.4 billion reiterates its commitment to sustainable property management: “There are increasing indications to support our view that sustainability, and particularly energy efficiency, grow income and grow value in the longer term. We are convinced this will be proven over time. Green buildings are also less at risk of obsolescence, thus further protecting and growing capital value over the medium to long term.” More →

Daylight exposure has ‘remarkable’ effect on office workers’ health

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The architectural design of office environments should take into consideration how natural daylight exposure contributes to employee wellness say the authors of a new study which observes a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ health. Compared to workers in offices without windows, those with windows in the workplace received 173 per cent more white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night. Workers without windows reported poorer scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality, as well as poorer outcomes on measures of overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction. More →

NeoCon and ThinkFM offer two different views of the facilities management elephant

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This week sees two events taking place on opposite sides of the pond that should hold a mirror up to the way we currently design and manage workplaces. In Chicago, it’s time for NeoCon, the annual office furniture behemoth held in the vast Merchandise Mart and attracting some 40,000 visitors, while in London it’s the distinctly  low-key Think FM conference from the BIFM held at the Royal College of Physicians – for today only, as they say. While these are two very different events in terms of scale, content and format and both are nakedly commercial, only one strikes me as particularly meaningful. And even that is only about the meaning of one part of the facilities management elephant.

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Record breaking month for City of London office leasing market

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The City of London leasing market has had one of the highest monthly take ups on record in May, with a total of 793,400 sq ft being let – up by 117 per cent month-on-month and 135 per cent on May last year. This brings the year to date take-up to 2.2 million sq ft, a 46 per cent increase on the equivalent period in 2012 according to Jones Lang LaSalle.  Five lettings over 50,000 sq ft were recorded during May, of which three were pre-lets exceeding 100,000 sq ft. These include Amazon at Sixty London, EC1 (213,000 sq ft), Bird & Bird at 12-14 New Fetter Lane which was leased last month by Great Portland Estates (pictured), EC4 (136,200 sq ft), and Amlin at The Leadenhall Building, EC3 (111,800 sq ft). More →

Are Japanese firms using banishment rooms to get rid of unwanted employees?

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Earlier in the year, it was reported that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare was investigating a number of the country’s most prominent companies including Panasonic, NEC, Sony and Sharp for the morally dubious practice of setting up euphemistic business units with the primary purpose of creating an office where they could send unwanted or poorly performing employees to demoralise them and drive them ultimately to resign. Last week the Japan Daily Press blog published more information about these so-called banishment rooms or oidashi-beya, claiming that  workers are forced to spend ten hours a day performing tedious and menial tasks until they decide to leave.

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UK employers are global leaders in flexible working and secure BYOD policies

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The UK’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) lead the world in flexible working and ensuring staff work securely in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) era, with 34 per cent saying they have policies, procedures and/or IT systems in place to manage the use of personal communications devices for business purposes. This compares to an average of 28 per cent in Europe and the rest of the world, and only 19 per cent in the US. This is not before time, as the global survey by YouGov of senior executives and managers in more than 1,250 small and medium businesses across Europe, North America and Australia on behalf of Citrix, found that nearly half of UK employees now routinely use personal devices at work.

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The future of retail – High Street Bladerunners and Apple in Wonderland

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AT&T Flagship Chicago

AT&T’s flagship Chicago store

I was going to write this week on the manifesto from MANTOWNHUMAN – subtitled “TOWARDS A NEW HUMANISM IN ARCHITECTURE” but frankly the dystopian visions it conjured up drove such a bulldozer through any human sensibility as to prove thoroughly depressing. You can find it here if you’re that way inclined. I’d be interested in your views. Instead I’m following up on a faintly hagiographic article in Adweek which recently hailed a new frontier in physical retail spaces, building on the success of Apple’s uber-cool high street playgrounds for bored teenagers and husbands. The store in question and an example of what many are hailing as the future of retail is AT&T’s new flagship on the self-styled Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

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Time to apply flexible working to harness women’s untapped potential

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Recommendations made on how to harness women's untapped potential in the workplace

Encouraging flexible working and understanding how best to support working parents in the second stage of their career is just one of the findings of a major report published today by the Women’s Business Council (WBC) on improving women’s contribution to economic growth. The WBC, which is chaired by Ruby McGregor Smith CBE, chief executive of MITIE, is an independent working group established by the government in 2012 to explore the untapped potential of the female workforce. Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth looks into addressing the obstacles at all stages of women’s careers, such as broadening career choices, helping to access childcare and providing the necessary skills to start new businesses. More →

Audio: the history and state of the open plan office

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Frank DuffyEarlier this year, the BBC World Service became the latest media outlet to discuss the growing backlash against the recent hegemony of open plan offices looking at its history, rationale, implications and our current love-hate relationship with the idea, including contributions from  Franklin Becker, Frank Duffy (pictured), Julian Treasure and Alexi Marmot  and drawing on several case studies. The programme is available to listen to here.

Facebook shares details of New York office design by Frank Gehry

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Facebook has announced details of its new headquarters in New York.  The social media giant has signed a ten year lease on a 100,00 sq. ft. space over two floors of a building on Broadway. The office design will be carried out by no less a figure than Frank Gehry who is already masterminding the development of the company’s global HQ in California. From next year, the new building will be home to Facebook’s regional engineering, design, sales and marketing functions who will move from the current office on Madison Avenue to the new site which is reportedly on the fringes of Manhattan’s ‘Silicon Alley’. The new building dates from 1906 when it was designed as a department store.  It is already home to AOL and the Huffington Post.

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