We spend most of our waking hours at work but, more often than not, the indoor spaces we confine ourselves to are not eco-friendly in the slightest. If we want to greenify our households or our lives on the go, the advice isn’t hard to find – have shorter showers, buy non-toxic cleaning products, use a canvas bag to go food shopping, carry a reusable water bottle. But what about our offices, why are we neglecting them of sustainable TLC?
According to the Journal of Cleaner Production, buildings are responsible for more than 40% of global energy usage and as much as 33% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Within these figures, the billions of internet-connected devices we use will produce 14% of global emissions by 2040, reports Climate Home News.
The city of London is a 1.1 square mile region, yet it has the highest carbon footprint, per person, in all of the UK. Simultaneously, there is a lot of headway in the field of sustainability going on, particularly when it comes to preserving the ‘Square Mile’ in the financial district. The city council is in the process of adapting infrastructure, gradually building an integrated transport system and improving air quality within the City Fringe, where the majority of office blocks are based.
We visited four of the most sustainable offices in London, for a little inspiration of our own.
1. For the edgy freelancer
Much like an authentic greenhouse, ‘Greenhouse’ co-working space is shrouded in natural light and draped in hanging plants. It’s a setting ideal for collaboration, motivating individuals and creative start-ups to work together, with a firm focus on the local community. The space has a rustic, recycled feel to it, with immaculately minimal décor and vintage furniture adding to the young, hipster vibe.
Greenhouse is perhaps not for your everyday businessman, but it works perfectly as an “alternative to the traditional office space”, manager Jessie Beaumont tells Euronews Living. The venue is cycle-friendly, encouraging greener commutes, and both the studios and furniture have been built from reclaimed materials by the in-house master craftsman. Jessie tells us that many members are “actively involved in environmental causes through their work”, such as the most recent Extinction Rebellion campaigns in Hackney and Islington.
To become a member of Greenhouse its £150 a month for 20 hours a week of desk space. This includes meeting rooms, phone booths and enviable access to their creative community of inspiring individuals and businesses.
2. To innovate and make scientific discoveries
As far as green workspaces go, trendy, Bermondsey-based ‘Green Lab’ is pretty unique. Part office, part ecological laboratory, it’s a creative space in which to design sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. Walking into Green Lab, it was instantly clear that no one is concerned with shiny aesthetics. No fuss, no frills, just a scientific workspace furnished with recycled wooden desks and potted plants on virtually every surface. The open space had daylight streaming in and the atmosphere was alive with excited exchanges.
At Green Lab, the focus is on food, waste and water. Entrepreneurs spend their days coming up with new innovations either in the Grow Spaces on offer or the Bio-plastics/Fabric Labs. Members use these “bookable messy spaces” for experiments and have access to indoor growing areas for insect farming, vertical growing and other “smelly” work involving algae and aquaculture.
Andrew Gregson, founder of Green Lab told Euronews Living that the lab is a place to “explore new ideas and develop projects that a have a focus on future materials and sustainable living”, hoping to “inspire future generations”.
Memberships come with a variation of access, from under £10 a month to use the indoor growing spaces, to £150 a month for 24/7 access to all the labs.
3. The corporate oasis
Home to one of the largest news wires in the world, the Bloomberg building encompasses 1.1 million square feet, or 3.2 acres, of sustainable office space. Despite its city credentials and central location, the architecture of Bloomberg is unique to the London skyline with a traditional stone and bronze exterior. It is clear that sustainability is at the core of the design philosophy both inside and out, having impressively received a 99.1% BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating.
The building’s striking bronze facade is immediately eye-catching as blades open and close, allowing the building to “breathe” and offering natural ventilation. Equally, the ceiling panels are made from 2.5 million polished aluminium ‘petals’ that save energy by improving the efficiency of heating, cooling and lighting functions. The building collects and reuses rainwater from the roof and even features what they call, a Green ‘Living Wall’ to increase the flow of oxygen through the space.
Hoping to “set a new standard for what an office environment can be”, Bloomberg L.P. founder Michael R. Bloomberg affirms that “environmentally-friendly practices are as good for business as they are for the planet.”
4. The elegant members club with an eco-friendly twist
The word ‘Arboretum’ means a botanical garden devoted to trees, a name perfectly fit for the leafy new members’ club recently opened in Charing Cross. Aesthetically pleasing throughout, the exclusive club is a relaxing green space to co-work and organise meetings or events on a daily basis. The co-working club appears instantly enigmatic, only accessible through its sister club ‘The Library’ next door. It's as if you’re entering into a secret garden, far from the hubbub of Trafalgar Square.
Dotted around on velvet sofas and statement armchairs are stylish city dwellers plugged into their MacBooks, no doubt researching sustainable projects. For lunch they dine on locally sourced food and drinks from the Deli, forgetting their urban surroundings in the rooms lined with green living walls - all fully equipped with water irrigation systems.
Chatting to founder Ronald Ndoro, we asked about the inspiration behind the ecologically themed members club. Ndoro told us, if we want to solve “the big existential challenges like climate change”, there must be a convergence of minds, “we need the violinist to interact with the scientist and the poet with the banker”, he explains.
Bringing like-minded people together “under a deliberate and common purpose” is what Arboretum is all about, the founder concludes.