22 October 2021
Curated by: Redazione IVM

Sustainable offices: “human-centric” design as a corporate strategy

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In recent years, sustainability and energy efficiency have become themes of pivotal importance in the office design field.

Increasing numbers of companies are moving towards a profile of sustainable development, adopting a “green” stance as an approach linked to corporate behaviour and policies, and investing in the renewal of its structures. This is leading to the implementation of “green oriented” projects with low environmental impact.

But what exactly is meant by the phrase “sustainable office”?

An office designed with the objective of protecting the ecosystem and enhancing people’s wellness. A location whose planning comprises conscious decisions, behavioural aspects, design, energy, materials and other resources, with the goal of facing the challenges of social and environmental changes, looking forward to a more sustainable future.

Investments into the design of “green” offices are justified in ways that include their positive impact on employees.

According to a report by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University, employees who work in sustainable companies show better cognitive performance when compared to those who work in a traditional office.

More specifically, it has been found that working in sustainable settings induces the following improvements:

  • a 73% increase in the ability to deal with crisis situations
  • a 44% increase in the level of applied activity, namely the ability to orient the decision-making process towards specific objectives
  • a 38% increase in concentration on corporate activities
  • a 31% increase in the ability to develop strategies.

It has also been shown that working in sustainable interiors improves employees’ quality of sleep, which has a positive impact on their psycho-physical health status.

This research is underscored by “Buildingomics”, a new approach that examines all the factors linked to a corporate structure having an effect on human health and workers’ wellness and productivity. A “human centric” design method, in other words hallmarked by a continual receptivity to people’s needs, taking certain factors into particular consideration:

  • Ventilation
  • Air quality
  • Thermal health
  • Humidity
  • Dust and parasites
  • Safety and protection
  • Water quality
  • Noise
  • Lighting and views

Source: For Health

All these elements are relevant first and foremost to the structural design area, therefore preceding the realm of aesthetics and design. But very often, in office furnishing design, attention is dedicated principally to visual elements – the organisation of space, the material used for the flooring, the colour of the walls – rather than to the impact that the space will have on the wellness of the people using it, the workers.

“Wellness” becomes an even more pivotal theme considering that we spend 90% of our time in interior spaces, and about a third of this in an office.

This fact is significant both for our health and for corporate finance. In fact a large proportion of the costs linked to corporate structures are due to the people inside.

This is why it is so important to adopt a “human centric” design approach aimed at sustainability, with the mission of transforming the office from a simple workplace to a resource at the service of employees and for the company’s growth.

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