Ashley Ashcroft OBI

NW in 2019 | Sustainable future

Sustainability is an often misused industry buzzword and marketing tool for businesses to promote themselves. But as we approach 2019, Manchester is making genuine progress in this area – people are becoming increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint and are working on creating a more energy efficient environment. Efforts will continue in the new year, especially in the workplace, writes Ashley Ashcroft of OBI.

Earlier this year Mayor Andy Burnham set ambitious plans for Manchester – bringing carbon neutrality forward a decade to 2040 along with targets on green buildings, plastic waste and transport. The workplace has already undergone a revolution due to the vast speed at which technology has developed. Technology is the main transformer of how we live, interact and work today and arguably technology is what interests’ people the most about the future, but as we move forward we need to ensure technology supports our environment and the businesses driving change.

Co-working provider WeWork recently committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2023 – this includes phasing out single use plastics and introducing a meat-free commitment. The company has estimated it will save 16.6 billion gallons of water, 445 million pounds of CO2 emissions and over 15 million animals.

We are experiencing a culture shift with millennials and the Z generation driving the force behind a healthier workplace. Recent studies have shown this generation value family first, followed by health and wellbeing, and so it’s no surprise they expect a good work-life balance. Industries are recognising the growing demand and many landlords are acting by investing in smart buildings and creating cultural hubs that ultimately improve living standards. LJ Real Estate’s Canada House, Allied London’s Enterprise City at St John’s and Bruntwood’s Neo building are all examples of the movement taking place at different scales.

The Neo building was designed to encourage social collaboration and co-working and its advancements in technology and design attracted engineering consultancy Hilson Moran. Last year Hilson Moran’s fit-out became the first Gold WELL Certified workspace outside of London and remains the only WELL certified workspace in Manchester. The purpose of WELL is to improve workplace conditions through design, taking into consideration air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, mind and innovation – each have their own requirements and means of testing, and some rely on the building function.

Businesses are increasingly adopting a sustainable approach to all aspects of operations, from reducing waste, going paperless, introducing ‘cycle to work’ schemes, opting to relocate to a more energy efficient smart building or by applying recycled materials to their office fit-out. While I feel the benefits of workplace design are still overlooked in relation to sustainability, the WELL approach will continue to lead by example in 2019 and will encourage businesses to be more mindful, through accredited certification or approved internal standards.

Next year landlords will be compelled to increase the use of smart technology, as developers, designers and occupiers seek to attain WELL standards to create more sustainable buildings and workplaces. In my opinion, the best way to predict the future is to create it. At OBI we are at forefront of driving this message forward and our workplace consultancy team are well positioned to create a better more sustainable future for our clients and our city through considered ideas and designs.

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