Green office renovations can capture $243bn for European businesses

Doubling renovation rates of offices to capture green building aspects across Europe could help offset growing energy demand and enable businesses to save $243bn in reduced rental costs, with separate analysis claiming that refurbishment of office furniture can trigger emissions reductions and job growth.

New research from Philips Lighting, released as part of World Green Building Week, highlights that renovating offices to create more space and improve energy usage can generate $243bn in business savings.

Specifically, Philips Lighting called for office renovation rates in developed countries to double – reaching 3% annually – in order to reduce emissions and offset increased global demand for energy due to population growth and urbanisation.

“Renovating buildings to make them more energy efficient can have a huge beneficial impact on the environment, and when they are renovated properly to encompass smart technology, the additional financial impact for businesses can also be vast,” Philips Lighting’s head of global public and government affairs Harry Verhaar said.

“This can significantly reduce bills for energy, water and air conditioning, and generate even greater financial benefits by improving the productivity of employees through enabling them to do things like find a meeting room faster or adapt the light and temperature conditions at their workstation.”

Globally, the analysis claimed that businesses can realise savings of up to $1.5trn if offices are renovated to capture green technologies. Asia is the largest market place for this, with more than 65 billion square feet of office space capable of generating $977bn in reduce rent costs annually.

Specific examples listed in the analysis include Deloitte’s Edge building, which improved space use and employee well-being through smart technologies. The analysis also draws on JLL’s 3-30-330 “rule of real estate”, which claims that costs per square foot annually are $3 for utilities, $30 for rent and $300 for payroll. This highlights that employee productivity can be more valuable to a company than overall rent reductions.

Sitting on change

Philip’s Lighting’s findings were followed by a new study from Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations, the EEB. With 140 members across more than 30 countries, the EEB examined the impact of discarded furniture in the European Union (EU), in relation to carbon emissions.

The study found that improved refurbishment and remanufacture of discarded furniture could save around six million tonnes of CO2, all while creating up to 157,000 jobs in the EU.

According to the EEB, Europe’s furniture sector faces challenges over increased raw material costs, poor workforce turnover and growing competitiveness from low-cost imports and systems from the likes of China.

In fact, 10 million tonnes of furniture are placed into the EU market every year. However, roughly the same amount is also discarded via landfill or incineration. The EEB has called for better business models to be implemented to cut waste in this area.

Stricter design criteria, which includes restrictions on chemical use, incentivised and mandatory producer responsibility schemes and life-cycle impact information for a variety of users were all listed as potential improvement measures.

The EEB’s senior policy officer for product policy Carsten Wachholz added: “By avoiding furniture waste, EU policy makers can boost a market that was hardly hit by the recent crises and is part of our cultural heritage and style. But this will require the adoption of appropriate demand and supply chain levers to support a change across the industry.”

edie Explains: the green office

Earlier this week, edie published an Explains guide to greening your office. From energy and water use,the waste you generate, air quality, noise pollution and transport, to the fixtures and fittings, systems, supplies and staff, the latest edie Explains guide, in partnership with Commercial Group, takes you through what you can do to create a greener office.

First steps to implementation, measuring and mapping to procurement decisions, we walk you through step-by-step and equip you with the knowledge you need to make it happen in your business.


Matt Mace

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