Green offices in Singapore? Why not?

Eco-friendly workplaces in Singapore have happier and productive employees when they perceive their companies as environmentally responsible.

Studies after studies have shown this to be true. So instead of simply constructing green buildings, practising sustainability in offices should be a continuously evolving process.

We should protect the environment by helping to conserve natural resources, reduce carbon emissions and build a focus on sustainability into our everyday operations. Aside from our homes, the office is where we spend much of our waking life.

However, perceptions still exist that going green is a costly affair with few benefits. A recent survey by Deloitte Analytics showed that carbon-intensive companies seem to be more profitable than their environmentally friendly counterparts.

So, how can companies (not just building owners) be encouraged to go green and really benefit from being eco-friendly at their work places?

A multi-pronged approach may help win over converts.

One – Provide Choices
One limiting factor for green offices is the availability of truly green options for companies to take the green route. As such, there is a need to expand the range of reliable and certified green products and solutions.

Two – Give Recognition
Next – giving recognition to encourage companies for making their offices green.

Under the Building & Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Scheme, companies are awarded points for their efforts in using environmentally-friendly furniture. BCA has been encouraging the use of sustainable products in offices.

Under the Green Mark Office Interior scheme, companies will receive points, under the section of “ Sustainable Materials Selection” which includes office furniture. Indeed, a number of companies here have received the coveted Green Mark Awards for Office Interiors.

Three – Remove Barriers
To entice more companies to take up green offices, we should remove barriers and make it as easy as possible for them to make their workspaces eco-friendly.

This means that design of buildings themselves should be green with environmentally sustainable features, which could reduce the environmental impact of the companies operating in them.

Indeed, many Green Mark buildings in Singapore today allow for companies to readily set up flexible open office designs with provision of shared desk solutions to reduce their real estate footprint, energy efficient air-conditioning, low-energy lighting systems and IT equipment.

In addition to energy and utilities savings, using sustainable materials such as recycled office systems will also reduce costs.

Empirical data has also shown that a building’s environmentally friendly design is instrumental in the greening of the office interiors and that the provision of efficient building features such as water fittings, cooling system and lighting efficiency of the building has an impact on the individual offices, and supports the tenants in achieving their operational targets compared to one without such a base.

Four – Raise Awareness
Making people aware of the benefits of green offices is perhaps the most important factor in convincing companies and building owners to have green offices.

Perhaps, the employees of today are more willing to embrace that happiness and productivity go hand in hand.

If they can help Singaporeans to generate a mindset change to think and act green, imagine how much happier and productive they will be. Innovative green office solutions can develop into new ways of growing our businesses while reducing our environmental impact and curtailing costs.

Tai Lee Siang, President, Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC)

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