Going Green–at Home, Abroad, and in the Office!
It’s always nice to be reminded that we’re not alone in the battle for the planet. Despite my involvement with environmental issues, I sometimes forget how wide-spread the movement really is, and how many wonderful, creative, and hard working allies we have around the world.
In truth, however, the whole world is waking up and taking notice of the needs of the planet that keeps us all alive. Just this afternoon, for instance, I ran across a delightful article on environmentally friendly workspaces in the Khaleej Times–one of the leading English papers of the United Arab Emirates.
The article makes the very good point that most of us think of ‘going green’ as being something that we do at home, and rarely do we extend the practice to the work place. Yet, almost 40% of CO2 emissions caused by power use are generated in work places. This issue is part of a rising awareness of environmental issues in the Middle East, and how the design market is catering to the new demand.
“There is an increased awareness for sustainable structures here in the UAE. The current challenge is not to get the client on board with environmental issues, but it is to make them more aware of the selection of useful energy saving materials and devices.” ~Geoff Black, Operations Director at AK Designs.
According to the article, they’re being quite successful, and new designs for sustainable office buildings are becoming very popular. What they’re finding is that well designed, sustainable buildings are often better for the employees as well as the planet.
“We did a fit out for a banking client and they had 40 photocopiers in the building,” said one designer. “We cut it down to two. As a result, employees were walking more, leading them to be a lot fitter and they met a lot of people on the way as well.” It’s really a win-win situation, if you think about it. Save power, and probably money, conserve paper, encourage your employees to be more active and more social, all at the same time! Really, it’s amazing how often saving the planet goes hand and hand with making life better for those who live on it.
Some people believe the country should take sustainable building to a legal level. “Environmental legislations are important. If there is a strong environmental regulation, people will know they have to do it,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director and founder of Design Worldwide Partnership (DWP). Others maintain that simplicity and choice are the way to go, keeping legislation simple and relying on human enthusiasm to bring about the change.
“The power should come from the people, employees must demand for a green space.”~Ben Corrigan, principal designer and partner at Bluehaus Group, an interior design consultancy.
It’s a refreshing outlook on sustainability, and one that I hope is being being replicated in America as well. The way forward for our species lies in cooperation and shared goals; in the ability to use what we have in new and creative ways, and in learning to make the best of everything and see potential in challenges. So here’s hoping we can all take a leaf out of these designer’s books, and learn to make our own lives better by improving the world around us.