Laing’s List for Encouraging Sustainable Office Design
“Choose the coolest shade of green,” is a challenge Dayle Laing has issued to those seeking to design and enjoy sustainable indoor environments.
Long considered a guru of sustainable design, Laing speaks and writes about interior design that “enhances the body, mind and spirit while reducing carbon footprints.” Her wisdom, applied to the modern office, confronts many of the barriers to sustainable design that corporate culture can present with careful education and practical suggestions for change.
We’ve called our top five of these pieces of careful education and practical suggestions “Laing’s List for Encouraging Sustainable Office Design.”
1. We know what sustainability is and what it means
“They want green or sustainable design, whatever that means,” is a typical dismissal of how our design choices affect the wellbeing of our office culture and our environment. The language of sustainability is well-defined. Laing refers to Peter Victor’s three principles of sustainability that motivate all the choices made in a sustainable design plan:
- Consumption of renewable resources should not exceed their ability for regeneration
- The depletion of non-renewable resources should not exceed the rate of any renewable alternative creation
- The emissions should not exceed the ecosystem’s ability to absorb them
Together, these three principles give sustainable design a clear purpose and goals to achieve what is meaningful for the designer, the contractors, the suppliers and the end users of the office environment.
Read more about what sustainability means here: http://www.daylelaing.com/News/what-is-sustainability.html
2. Assume you can afford it
In an era where all budgets are subject to scrutiny, it is too easy to dismiss sustainable design as an unaffordable luxury. While “green” products like sustainable design may once have come at a premium, that is no longer the always the case.
“Recent research indicates the premium for green construction is dropping and barriers to sustainable design are being reduced,” Laing wrote in a recent blog post. “Increasingly consumers are choosing sustainability when green options are clearly explained.”
In fact, choices that may save money in the short term may cost companies more in the long run, often in the form of sick days for employees who develop chemical sensitivities.
Laing discusses the effects of off-gassing on our indoor environments through off-gassing of volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, and phthalates that are often used in floor coverings such as rugs and in the treatments or adhesives applied to hardwood floors or tiles.
To read more about how cost barriers to sustainable design can be managed see: http://www.daylelaing.com/News/sustainable-interior-design-trends.html
3. Recycling has a ripple effect
Sustainable design and the creation of products that support it, is often rejected as relying too heavily on “third world” labour or being “too expensive” when produced by local workers. In fact, sustainable design projects and products can be seen happening around the globe. In her travels, Laing has seen programs in the Philippines and in New Brunswick that were engaged in similar activities and creating similar products. Activities such as the links between Asia-sourced “Net Effect” floor tiles and 30Fathom Doormats made in North America.
“…villagers on a remote Philippine Island clean, sort and sell their discarded nets to Interface’s yarn supplier, Aquafil, a pioneer in nylon six recycling. The London Zoological Society organized Net Works™ to plan and manage this international partnership. CoMSCA set up community banking to provide savings and loan opportunities to the village members,” Laing writes.
“On a smaller, more local scale, we visited the Grand Manan Farmers Market in North Head,” Laing writes of a trip to New Brunswick. “There, we met Claus, the owner of 30Fathom Doormats, who has turned the discarded fishermen’s lines into attractively woven door mats. Each Grand Manan locally woven doormat reclaims 25-30 fathoms (150-180 feet) of lobster line, keeping it out of the landfill. No worries about a how the mats will stand the weather!”
Learn more about the global thinking behind similar products that re-use or re-cycle “waste” products: http://www.daylelaing.com/News/ripple-effect-of-recycling.html
4. Sustainability protects quality of life
We all love our uninterrupted supply of electricity. All of our office productivity depends on this resource, but Laing reminds us, “We are not using energy for its highest and best purposes.”
Offices can become more sustainable if when, the next time our equipment needs changing, we make more energy efficient choices.
Laing quotes author Vivian Loftness on the simple choices that can decrease our use of “phantom load” or “standby power” and protect our quality of life for times to come:
Replace a broken or malfunctioning CRT monitor LCD computer monitor
When computers need replacing, consider a laptop instead of desktop computer, so you only need one instead of two.
Use an inkjet printer when necessary instead of a laser printer. If you use the “standby feature” you’ll save even more power
To see how your choices of appliances and office equipment can better save power see: http://www.daylelaing.com/News/coolest-shade-of-green-quality-of-life.html
5. Reusing existing materials is the most prominent trend in sustainable design
Remember what our parents and grandparents who had survived the Great Depression and the Second World War used to say?
“You never know when you might need something,” says Laing.
The process of “resource salvation” is teaching us how to re-use what we already have. When a building is torn down, the materials can be catalogued and stored for use in the new design. Often, old materials can be superior to new materials, but they may have to be purchased and stored long before they are ready for use.
“The number of waste material websites is increasing,” Laing reports.” Designers need to develop links with salvage yards and demolition contractors so they can think about reuse from the start of the design process.”
Read more about re-using existing materials in Green Construction here: http://www.daylelaing.com/News/green-building-trends.html