20 . Aug . 2021

How Are Sustainable Shared Spaces Fighting Climate Change?


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Zioks: How Are Sustainable Shared Spaces Fighting Climate Change?

Summary Climate change is an imminent threat that has made people across the world re-evaluate their everyday decisions – including business owners. Building up a green, eco-friendly workspace is a step in the right direction. In this blog, we look further into how such facilities bridge the gap between ecological and economical aspects of working.

Coworking spaces are known for disrupting the conventional work environments and testing them to the limits. One such trend that has evolved in the past few years is the rise of green workspaces. As climate change continues to be a global threat, the open and innovative environment of such sustainable shared spaces provides an apt scenario to play a part in bringing a tangible difference. Previously, having lavish conference rooms, thriving community, superfast WiFi connectivity, etc. were all signs of an ideal coworking space – today, it’s mandatory for any shared office setting.  

The luxury perspective has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of delivering new features and meeting customer requirements. In the last few years, we have struggled with some of the harshest consequences of climate change, reaching the point of a climate emergency in many parts of the world. The wildfires across the forests of Australia, South America, melting ice floors in Antarctica, the rise of locust swarms from the Middle East to Asia, and many more unforeseen disasters imply the tipping point of the global ecological balance. All these have led people to be more mindful about their lifestyle choices and vigilant about environmental sustainability, even in their workspace. Today, builders and business owners collaborate to build eco-friendly office complexes, tech-parks, zero-waste facilities, and shared offices are no different.

The concept of ‘green workstations’ will soon become a norm, even more so now that most of the global workforce continues to work-from-home, unable to move closer to nature outdoors. And there are many tectonic changes that sustainable shared spaces bring to the imminent future of work globally. Here’s how:

World Green Building Council Annual Report 2020

(The above image depicts the state of the global market from 2010-2020 and the growing need for sustainable solutions in workspaces)

A balance between sustainability and economic viability

It may seem two entirely different things on the surface, but the truth is that coworking spaces’ sustainability and economic viability go hand-in-hand.

  • Think about it, incorporating energy-saving lighting solutions working and advanced HVAC technologies can be an innovative and cost-effective move as it reduces your facility’s carbon footprint.
  • Instead of having conventional flooring, facilities can also choose to have refurbished, sustainable bamboo flooring and non-toxic paints to cut back on carbon emissions. 
  • When we think of lighting solutions, we automatically think of artificial lights instead of making the best use of natural light. With the integration of more open spaces in the interiors, you can limit any unnecessary lighting usage and make significant savings.
  • Incorporating the ethos of green, air-purifying indoor plants can be a great way to provide a fresh workspace to the professionals and keep away pollutants, molds, bacteria, pollen, etc. As per NASA’s research, here are five air quality improving plants that can be easily added to any workspace:
    • Spider Plant
    • Dracena
    • Ficus 
    • Boston Fern
    • Snake Plant
  • Among the many, easily replaceable things you can do to limit carbon emission is cutting back on plastic usage. Instead, all members and guests should have access to glasswares or ceramicwares as better alternatives to plastic cups, plates, and other commonly used tableware. Having separate recycle bins for stationary plastic wastage, metal, paper can segregate trash essential for the recycling/reusing process. 
  • If your facility is located in an easy-to-access, geographically situated area nearby to the members’ homes, you can encourage them to bike to your coworking space on the weekends or special occasions. In 2009, Google celebrated a ‘biking to work’ day/week across all of its global offices, from Bangalore to Zurich. Your members can even partner up with the local communities to organize bike marathons, clean-up drives to give back to society, and foster a robust symbiotic relationship. Such collaborations can promote homegrown businesses, too, as you rely on them for eco-friendly stationery, cleaning supplies, decor solutions; instead of buying expensive alternatives online.

Benefits and Impact of Having Green Workspaces

Apart from the ongoing ecological and cost-saving repercussions from each element of the eco-friendly, shared work areas mentioned above, there are sheer advantages from embodying green office design.

Productivity Shoot up

Studies and experiments have proven that the human mind, when surrounded by nature, can have improved concentration and less attention fatigue, increasing productivity by up to 15%.

Working under natural light can also boost creativity since researchers found out that improved indoor environmental quality heightens human cognitive function significantly. 

Physical and Mental Wellbeing

As per a 2015 study at Stanford University, it was revealed that an exposure of 90 minutes to nature could decrease negative thoughts and take care of individuals’ mental health and wellbeing. 

The Washington State University also discovered that more plants in office spaces could combat dust levels by 20% and maintain humidity levels in the acceptable range of 30-60%, essential for human health.

Develops positive relationships

One of the undermined phenomena of sustainable shared spaces is its ability to build encouraging connections with others, rooting from the fundamentals of sharing and collaboration. How so? Here’s an instance: 

If your facility houses over 20 different businesses under the same roof, it’s imperative that they will network eventually. But with green, shared workspaces, the shift in the work culture towards a harmonious and open culture,  from a hierarchical environment can bring in numerous possibilities of sharing and interaction. Since you’re cutting back on the utilization of plastic office supplies, members reaching out for spare paper clips can be an excellent ice-breaker.

Environment Chain Reactions

As per the United Nations Environment Programme, the building industry is responsible for up to 39% of all energy-related CO2 emissions. Buildings in developed countries are directly accountable for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of solid waste generation. However, adapting small changes in building design can eliminate any excess waste, save energy, and cut back expenditure by 50%.

Building Brand Reputation

For a business, its workforce is one of its most important assets. Over the years, with increasing workplace stress, companies big and small seek and come up with innovative ways to retain and acquire the best talent that the world can offer. This has caused them to opt for greener, collaborative, flexible co-working spaces for better employee engagement. 

Then again, for clients, partnering up with businesses that are at the forefront of taking care of the environment and their employees can be a credible choice. It also builds up a positive reputation for coworking spaces in the business industry because of its advanced amenities and design that goes above and beyond to balance the environmental and member requirements.

How Has Zioks Taken the Green Initiative?

What one can do with an existing building complex is limited, but there are still options that make a big difference.

One of the biggest consumers of energy in the typical office is lighting. Just a single fluorescent tube in a ceiling fixture uses 30-40 watts. Multiply that by several in the fixture and by how many fixtures there are, you end up with thousands of watts being drawn just from having the lights on. For 50 fixtures with 4 tubes each, that’s 8,000 watts of constant draw. 

Think of that- office lights in a large facility are similar to running 8 microwaves all day without stopping! When lights consume power, it doesn’t disappear- it gets converted to heat. The HVAC system has to work much harder to remove that extra heat from the building.

By opting to use single LED bulbs over fixtures in places, we’ve cut back on the typical office lighting energy usage by half or more. Combining this with lighting controls based on motion, a timer, or a schedule, can greatly reduce the energy consumption of your facility by a great deal. 

Another important thing to consider is the materials used in renovations. It’s typical that a building gets renovated when changed to a new owner. At Zioks, we specifically chose eco-friendly drywall, carpeting, drop ceiling tiles, and furniture. Unlike lighting, these aren’t a “win-win” cost saving option, but we feel it’s important to choose these options when available and support the industries that recycle.

Drywall in particular has a lot of options, some not only using recycled gypsum, but also using renewable materials mixed in, costing less energy to produce and using less toxic materials as binding.

Carpeting has a lot of plastics on the backing. These plastics can be recycled, and many of the major carpet manufacturers like Mohawk offer recycled options. Replacing some of the carpeted area in your design with longer lasting hardwood or tile options is a good idea as well, which we have done. LVP can be made from recycled materials, wood flooring can be made from bamboo, and tiles can be eco-friendly as well.

Most of all, when renovating, it’s important to make the right choice on the disposal of old materials and furniture- recycling where possible. Those ‘eco-friendly’ options we bought have to come from somewhere!

Final Words

Being right in the middle of a global climate crisis, the need for sustainable spaces has never been more critical. Such areas are so much more than just being eco-friendly workspaces, but benefit the environment, enrich the human minds, and help businesses to grow. We at Zioks create and implement such biophilic design solutions through our shared office space in Kolkata to provide a future-proof and healthier work environment for businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life. 

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