What does responsibility look like in best practice?
It’s not always best for the clients, or the environment, to completely strip out their premises and then refit new products. Too often we’ve seen projects where clients have been advised to start with a blank canvas, but this can be wasteful and expensive and not always very creative. It’s sometimes best for the client and the environment to look for ways to reuse partitioned walls, office furniture and flooring in areas not so important to the grand scheme of a project. This is where a responsibility to the client and the environment comes to the fore. Partition walls can be repainted or recovered, furniture can have new tops fitted with different finishes rather than replacing the whole unit, and chairs can be refurbished and recovered with new fabric; all which usually end up being a cheaper option than buying new.
Where office furniture must be discarded, perhaps due to an office closure, then rather than disposing of it as the first option, consideration should be given to initiatives such as selling for reuse and giving the profits to charity, or giving the products directly to a charity. Disposal should be the option of last resort!
Helping clients to become eco-friendly
We encourage discussions with clients around the benefits of installing LED Lighting, solar panels and ultra-efficient air conditioning, so that the best electrical energy savings and reduction to their carbon footprint can be achieved. We can also advise on how to access grants and funding from various organisations that can help financially with these enhancements to premises.
Another thing we are mindful of and mustn’t forget, is the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles. We can discuss the benefits and organise the installation of specific smart chargers. Of course, the jury may still be out on electric vehicles and their use in business, but with this in mind, the modern office work configuration, with desk sharing and hub points may mean staff don’t need to travel to the office as often, which in turn adds to a further reduction in the carbon footprint of your business.
Understanding our wider responsibility
Companies within the commercial fit-out industry have a responsibility to advise and adhere to Local Authority Building Control Regulations and need to pay special attention to a range of aspects including fire control, electrical services, means of escape, health and safety and DDA regulations. These elements of a project must be certified by the council who have a responsibility to adhere to relevant laws and regulations.
So, as you can see, the world of commercial and office interiors has a responsibility to its clients and their staff, the environment, local authority and government; that’s before we start on our own business!
Pat Lewis is Founder and Chairman at Source One Consulting. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 08456 031 585 Visit: sourceoneconsulting.co.uk