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3 ways to make meeting spaces, workplaces sustainable

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Green office spaces can boost health and productivity, and business owners are looking for ways to become eco-friendlier.

Whether one works from a home office or owns a small business or a large corporation, there are ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the business, in return decreasing costs associated with energy consumption, to lower the cost of business and create a healthier workspace environment.

Visionect recently introduced the Joan Meeting Room Assistant, an energy efficient digital door label and meeting room scheduling solution. Here are three trends in meeting spaces, according to the company, that promote a sustainable workplace:

  • Promote green office practices: If you want an environmentally friendly office space design, ensure that your meeting space promotes green office practices. Some ways to ensure that your office is green is to go digital. Physical calendars for meeting room reservations are not very green. Getting a digital conference room reservation system reduces unnecessary waste. Other green office practices include telecommuting or using public transit, business casual attire and powering down at night when it comes to shutting down unused devices to save on the overall energy bill.
     
  • LEED certification score and environmentally friendly office products: The U.S. Green Building Council created a scoring system to rate the greenness of a building. The scoring system is called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The highest potential LEED score is 110. Based on the number of points a building earns, it will receive one of four ratings: certified (40+), silver (50+), gold (60+) and platinum (80+). The points are weighted based on environmental impact. Achieving a high LEED certification score can be done by incorporating three green friendly factors; green construction methods, sustainable materials, and energy-efficient systems into the building process. When designing a meeting room, ensure they meet the LEED certification score by buying eco-friendly office furniture.
     
  • Use environmentally friendly office products: Environmentally friendly office products can range from reusable pens, to LED lamps and bulbs, to recycled paper and rechargeable batters, as long as you research and replace what can be more eco-friendly in your office, you are closer to being green. When it comes to reusable pens, stop throwing away pens and start using reusable ones. Even when it comes to ink and toner cartridges, each reused cartridge saves 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic and half a gallon of oil. Plus, it costs about 1.5 times less than new cartridges.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Energy Saving Products, Great Commercial Buildings, Office Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, USGBC


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Journey to Health & Wellness: Sustainable Design Practices

Susan Chung, ASID
Randy Fiser, ASID
Ken Wilson, Perkins + Will

The rapid changes in the way we work today have consequences on our physical and mental health, productivity, engagement, and retention. Through research, we now have an increased awareness of how our physical surroundings have a significant impact on our work, decisions, behaviors, and overall health and wellness. As we spend 93 percent of our time indoors, we should be mindful of the workplace design decisions we make in order to achieve human sustainability.

Using a case study of a newly designed association headquarters, hear from the visionary client, the designer, and the researcher on how to create a healthy workplace through design, research, office protocols, and workplace culture, with a chance to tour the office space located in downtown D.C.

Learning Objectives:

  • Examine the workplace environment’s effect on health and wellness
  • Review a case study (ASID headquarters in Washington, D.C.) from the design process to the final design
  • Apply LEED and WELL building design standards to create healthy workplaces
  • Design projects that incorporate research from multiple disciplines

AWC 2016 SESSIONS

Continue reading Journey to Health & Wellness: Sustainable Design Practices

The real way social media helps interior design businesses

Catherine Iste

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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The real way social media helps interior design businesses

Marketing isn’t the only thing Pinterest and Instagram can help designers do. The ease of posting amazing images, inspiring design boards and our portfolios makes both sites great tools for sharing more about our work, approach and style.

On the flip side, both sites can wreak havoc on our productivity, self-esteem and may not directly help our marketing. There is more to these impactful platforms and it is time to better understand and take advantage of the real ways social media helps our design businesses.

The beauty of numbers

The design board does not make the room. While social media like Pinterest and Instagram both embrace and embody the importance of the visual experience, there is more to design work than beauty.

Mark D. Sikes is an internet design phenom, but he was quoted in a recent Elle Decor article giving props to his retail experience at Banana Republic for teaching him how to “execute creativity and how to manage big teams — (both of which) have been instrumental in his success as a designer.”

In other words, amazing images are necessary but no less important are project management and operational skills. And without a clear understanding of what we are using social media for and how we are tracking that purpose, we are likely wasting a lot of our limited time and money.

For those without an entire team or unlimited resources to spend building up a website, blog and active presences on multiple social media outlets, how much time can we really afford to invest in active management of our online presence?

Thus, step one in ensuring social media helps our design business: get clear today on why we are using it and start tracking right now whether it is returning on our investment of time, energy and creativity.

BFFs and likes

Second, remember that the best client is a current client. Doing our best work and ensuring our clients love us opens the opportunity for them to use us again in other rooms and other houses. Plus, they can refer us with wonderful word of mouth — sharing our posts or allowing us to post images from their project. The other way social media helps designers is by deepening our relationship with current clients.

This can happen in two ways that do not require an additional time investment from us — trend-spotting and referrals.

First, we are already monitoring what styles are trending, where they are coming from and how they are being interpreted. With social media, we can easily share those trends with our clients and if the trend is something we have already embraced, we can highlight our way of incorporating it.

If it is not something we have already implemented, we can weigh in with how we would interpret it. Both perspectives provide current clients an open, fresh line of communication with what we are doing — reinforcing our relevance and expertise.

Second, social media makes referrals easy and easily trackable in a way it never was before. We can use this as a great opportunity to appreciate our current clients for any positive media they share.

Thus, while social media allows us to easily, visually present our style and approach it can also help us appreciate and optimize our relationship with our current clients. Further, by creating clear goals around our social media purpose, we can fully take advantage of the simple ways these platforms allow us to track the impact social media has our bottom line.

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About the Author

Catherine Iste

Catherine Iste is the founder of betterHR.org, an online school that is redefining recertification by providing fun, unique and convenient continuing education for HR pros, nurses, attorneys and CPAs. Connect with her on LinkedIn or at betterHR.org.

Continue reading The real way social media helps interior design businesses

How wood can increase productivity in the workplace

MAKE IT WOOD /

Office design in wood

Have you ever walked across solid oak floors, or sat behind a mahogany desk and felt an unexpected sense of motivation and wellbeing?

You are not alone. The recent Workplaces: Wellness+Wood=Productivity report has proven that weaving wood into your office design and workplace can be a major driver of wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.

The full report builds on the biophilia hypothesis that was first popularised by biologist and author Edward Wilson — a notion that explains, “Humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.”

And this report has shown that not only does the modern worker crave a connection to nature (like wood) in their office, it actually inspires them to become happier, more productive  employees.

More wood means happier workers

The report indicated that more than 60 per cent of indoor workers in Australia will spend the bulk of their days in an office. Of those, only half will spend more than an hour outside in nature each day.

Read more about finding a responsibly sourced wood solution for your business.

Interestingly, over a third of Australian office workers aren’t satisfied with their physical working environment. The report showed that workers who were employed in places with more wood had higher levels of satisfaction, more positive associations with their workplace, higher levels of wellbeing, higher levels of concentration as well as improved moods and personal productivity.

Greater productivity from incorporating wood into the workplace

The report demonstrated that the notion of wood improving the productivity of workers was not idealistic, but built on fact.

Biophilic design in the workplace can increase productivity by 15 per cent, with those surveyed saying more exposed wood in the office improved their ability to concentrate and lifted their feeling of wellbeing.

More timber can help combat the ‘sickie’

Did you know that wood isn’t just great for productivity, it also means workers take less leave days as well?

The report showed that almost half of employees that were very dissatisfied with their physical workplace took unplanned leave. That is compared to less than a quarter of workers who are satisfied with their surroundings.

With only 59 per cent of workers presently happy with their surroundings, employers can help eliminate the ‘sickie’ (unplanned leave for no reason other than not wanting to come to work) by adding more wood into the office environment.

Wood the big trend in modern architecture

Grand Designs Australia host and architect Peter Maddison backed the findings of the Wellness+Wood=Productivity report and said that architects were now weaving more natural elements into their designs.

Maddison got a first-hand experience of the changes that wood inspired in a recent re-design of his own home.

“I pulled up the shag pile carpets, got rid of all the plaster ceilings and replaced them with timber ceilings and beautiful oak floors,” he said.

“I removed all the plastic laminate and put in a lot more timber surfaces. It brought a sense of calm, a much more relaxed feeling.”

Maddison said there was a major timber revolution in the 1970s when it came to architecture and that the trend is returning in the modern era.

“The nuts and berries architecture in the 1970s was raw, celebrating nature in architecture,” he said.

“That trend is coming back. Not as raw as the ’70s … but we are seeing the use of timber is coming back.”

How can I incorporate wood into my workplace?

For many, ripping up carpets or replacing walls, ceilings or other structural elements is likely a bridge too far.

But there are many ways to incorporate wood into the workplace without making dramatic structural changes. For example, 45 per cent of those surveyed said they could see a wooden desk from where they sat, 39 per cent could see wooden tables and 39 per cent were in view of wood shelving or cupboards.

Other wooden objects that can be brought into the workplace include doors, chairs, window or picture frames, floorboards and blinds. Of course, if you are looking to renovate, the option for timber ceiling beams and wooden panels on the walls and floors can be attractive additions as well.

In conclusion, it’s worth bearing in mind two things: One, that the average office refurbishment cycle in Australia is about seven years – so if you’re near the end of your current cycle, now’s the time to start planning for a more productive wooden workplace. And, two, that what applies in the workplace arguably translates to the home, whether it’s where a homeworker works or homework is done – adding wood will make it a more pleasant, productive environment.

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Disasters—and Bad Architecture—Can Affect Human Happiness and Productivity

On April 4, Susan S. Szenasy, Metropolis’s director of design innovation, moderated a panel at the downtown offices of Page architects on this complex topic.

 

resiliency architecture happiness productivity learning


The increasing regularity of major climatic events like Hurricane Harvey has led to meaty discussions among architects, planners, and developers about how best to prepare vulnerable urban communities. This preparation should not be limited to times of emergency, however, but should be anchored to a long-term project of resiliency involving community support, education, and public space. On April 4, Susan S. Szenasy, Metropolis’s director of design innovation, moderated a panel at the downtown offices of Page architects overlooking the crown jewel of Austin’s urban fabric: Lady Bird Lake and its hike-and-bike trail.

Sam Gosling, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, challenged his fellow panelists from the onset, pointing to what he viewed as the lack of substantial academic research into the psychological effects of design on human happiness, productivity, and sense of connection. Larry Speck, senior principal at Page and professor of architecture at UT Austin, argued that psychology has always been essential—even “embedded”—in architects’ work. Szenasy expanded the concept to ask what types of community-building possibilities can be developed to support and connect human beings during crises.

Indeed, growing levels of anxiety and depression in children demonstrate that looming ecological cataclysms and the erosion of community weigh heavily on our psyches. Two educators, Sara Cotner, founder and CEO of Magnolia Montessori for All, and Sue M. Cox, MD, executive vice dean for academics and chair of the department of medical education at UT Austin’s Dell Medical School, spoke of the critical effects of design on the learning process. Although their respective projects vary greatly, Cotner and Cox agreed that design’s emphasis on creating space for collaboration and community is key to attaining measurable improvement in students’ ability to overcome not only academic challenges but also difficult life circumstances.

resiliency architecture happiness productivity learning


Wendy Dunnam Tita, principal and interior design director at Page, brought the panel themes back to buildings and suggested architects avoid over-programming and enable flexibility of use. Even small gestures, she added, may have big effects on well-being and on a project’s longevity. As she said, “A building that has resiliency is one that can accommodate change and be lasting.”

This point linked back to Szenasy’s question about how to build community. For Adam Nims, managing director and head of Trammell Crow Company’s Austin Business Unit, part of the solution is to normalize community-oriented amenities in real estate developments. Nims is currently heading the construction of Austin’s largest office building, which will feature outdoor terraces on every other floor and include a pocket park at street level. “These things might seem trendy,” Nims said, “but they are grounded in data about how people behave and how we can set them up for success in the environment we are creating.”

But for all the talk about community, what exactly makes one up? Speck, building on Dunnam Tita’s earlier comment, offered a definition of sorts: a collective group “that has longevity and investment in its institutions and pride in each other so that if something bad happens, we know we are all in this together.”

The Think Tank discussions in Austin, Texas, were held on April 4 and 5. The conversations were presented in partnership with SunbrellaDXV/GROHE,Wilsonart, Visa Lighting, and Lutron

You may also enjoy “Mærsk Tower Revitalizes the Gloomy Research Campus in Copenhagen.”

Continue reading Disasters—and Bad Architecture—Can Affect Human Happiness and Productivity

Greenbuild 2018: Tunable White Lights Can Improve Health and Well-being

11/15/2018 | BY RACHEL KATS

Whether in an office, hospital or your living room, light and color temperature impact everything from our wake-sleep cycle to our general health and well-being.

The advent of LED lighting gave us the ability to better control light, and as the technology has improved products like tunable white lights are gaining popularity because of their:

  • Efficacy
  • Versatility
  • Health, financial and aesthetic benefits

“The demand for tunable white light continues to strengthen and we’re taking human-centric lighting to the next level with these products,” says Jared Morello, Wattstopper product marketing manager at Legrand, who showcased the Blanco lighting solution at the 2018 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

Circadian Rhythm Management

Lighting controls

Tunable white lighting allows for adjustments to the intensity and color quality, allowing us to mimic natural light, which can evoke human biological responses. Research has shown office workers who receive a robust dose of circadian-effective lightexperience better sleep and lower levels of depression and stress than those who spend their days in dim or low light levels.

“What studies have shown is that you really don’t want that cool light late in the day, instead you want to have warm light, that’s better for circadian rhythm. If you use that cool light late in the day that could suppress your melatonin production and that’s what impacts your circadian rhythm and that’s what impacts your sleep,” says Pete Shannin, CFA, vice president and general manager of Skylight and Daylighting Systems at Sunoptics from Acuity Brands, which also showcased at Greenbuild.

[Related: Facts and Fiction of Tunable Lighting]

Both Legrand and Sunoptics offer products that are integrated and combine a tunable white light solution with other controls and technological features.

“We have a timer switch that will run on an automatic schedule in the background, if you want to mimic a sunrise, midday, sunset schedule, this would do that automatically,” Morello says. “It can do schedules based on time of day or an astrological event, so you could say, start the schedule an hour after sunrise, instead of saying 7 a.m. for instance. And then if want to make changes throughout the day, or not run an automatic schedule.”

Productivity

Many spaces aren’t designed to have the exact same activity going on throughout the day, white tunable light allows you to adjust lighting to complement the activity occurring in that space at any given time to improve performance and productivity.

[On topic: Harvesting Natural Lighting]

“Think of a classroom, let’s say you want your kids relaxed, well you wouldn’t be able to have them relaxed under that really bright, cool light. By bringing it down more and maybe dimming, it gets to be a more relaxing environment,” Shannin explains. “Versus let’s say, for test taking when you want them to be alert you can make that light cooler and that, therefore will have them perform better.”   

Function and Design

Practically speaking, many white tunable light products offer not only health benefits, but also a functional and aesthetic solution. Because these products are integrated into other components, like control systems, they can cut down on clutter, installation time and cost. 

“The unique thing about Blanco and Wattstopper is that the controls are imbedded in the fixtures above, which means you can simply plug the fixtures via Cap 5 into our control system and they auto commission themselves. So, there’s no additional onsite programming or dialing into the fixture space, saving the installer or the integrator a lot of time and money,” says Morello.

Sustainability and Savings

Sunoptics designs and manufactures prismatic skylights that harness the power of the sun to maximize the cost-effective energy savings of daylighting. Additionally, the integration of multiple components also allows for fewer materials being used, providing a more sustainable option.

“You’re not going to use as much material, you don’t have to use the extra steel and the shroud to create a luminar,” Shannin says. “You can get rid of all that steel because all the LED components are in this skylight.”

Janelle Penny, senior writer for BUILDINGS, contributed to this article from the 2018 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

Continue reading Greenbuild 2018: Tunable White Lights Can Improve Health and Well-being

5 Workplace Trends Breathing Down The Neck Of The Commercial Real Estate Industry

Despite the growth of open floor plans and creative workspaces, the U.S. office environment has been curiously resistant to change in recent decades. Many workers across the country still toil away in cubicle-oriented space, which was designed without regard to actual human beings. Wikimedia/Zonaspace Christopher Kelly, a co-founder of workplace hospitality platform Convene, writes in Forbes that commercial real estate professionals need to forget “office” and think “workplace.”  The workplace of today is already moving beyond the need to create proximity between people, which traditionally was the entire function of an office because it facilitated work. With people more connected today than ever, offices of the future will need to be about much more than proximity.

The new purpose of a workplace is to attract and retain the best talent. Broadly speaking, companies are revamping offices in five major ways:  1. Flexible environments. The office used to promote linear and hierarchical workflow. Now it needs to be a place where employees choose their work environment, based on what needs to be done.  2. More empathy. Smart buildings will not be that smart until they are empathetic, too. They will need to anticipate and respond to the needs of tenants as individuals. 3. Redefined amenities. Buildings will need cafés, lunchtime classes, lounge areas, flexible meeting spaces and more. These will not be extras or frills, but mandatory for tenant acquisition. 4. Individualized workplace design. Commercial real estate pros will be expected to help companies of all sizes design their workspace to suit their needs and be a strategic tool to drive growth. 5. Changing role for heads of real estate. The head of real estate for a company will need to orchestrate workplace environments and experiences to maximize employee engagement, and thus productivity.

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AN OFFICE DESIGN IN INDIA THAT KEEPS CREATIVITY, ENERGY AND SPIRITS HIGH

An architecture firm in India gets a new space that boosts their employees’ creativity and productivity. 

That our surroundings affect our mood, productivity and creativity is a universally acknowledged fact, and the designers at Arkiplan International took that literally when they designed their architectural office with an abundance of spaces that range from private and communal to formal and casual to give the creative minds behind the firm an environment that keeps their creativity, energy and spirit scales high.

There are different punctual elements that come together to enliven the great working space. The office opens up to a reception donned by a magnificent parametric table with the backdrop of a green wall and faces a semi-formal meeting room in the tones of warm yellow. Rather than confronting the open reception with the closed meeting room, a complementary, coherent whole has been created with a sleek divider.

The office follows an open plan layout to foster communication among the staff and seeks to create engagement through design and design through engagement. With the open floor plan comes the responsibility to create breakout areas where people can get a few moments of quiet or concentrate. It has been catered to with several quiet spaces. A stepped seating in leather-finish granite provides the opportunities for spontaneous conversations and a creative setting for casual recreation and refreshment. The steps look upon a wall of human-sized sculptures based on the theme of ‘Resurgam’, which translates to I shall rise again. It inspires people to look beyond their current struggles in the hopes of a blissful tomorrow and future.

A variety of distinct elements come together to define the working space. Image courtesy of PHX India.

When was the project completed?

January 2018

How much space?

2,250 square feet, net

Was this new or renovated space?

New build

SF per person?

Just under 100 square feet per person

How many employees?

26

What is average daily population?

24

The sculptures are based on the theme of 'Resurgam'- a Latin phrase that translates to “I shall rise again”, which defines the whole existence of every living being. If it were not for our struggles and the will to thrive, survive and make it forth, we wouldn't exist. After every time that life puts us down or obstacles weigh over us, we decide to rise above them. They teach us to accept life as it comes, celebrate it with its all ups and downs and become stronger in the process while discovering 'ourselves'. The text also appears on the corten steel board next to the sculptures. Image courtesy of PHX India.

Describe workspace types.

Continue reading AN OFFICE DESIGN IN INDIA THAT KEEPS CREATIVITY, ENERGY AND SPIRITS HIGH

Helping your employees deal with stress

Interior designers often work under considerable stress to meet deadlines, stay on budget, manage vendors and suppliers, and please their bosses as well as their clients. Not all stress is bad, and not all workplace stress can be eliminated.

Continue reading Helping your employees deal with stress

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