Using Office Design to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Why developers and designers are incorporating green elements into their office buildings.

Editor-in-Chief Jessica Fiur

Do you know that mushrooms can be kind of magical?

(I don’t mean that kind of magic mushroom! This is a family publication.)

Mushrooms are being used more and more by the commercial real estate industry as a form of insulation in new office buildings. One type, called mycelium, is even fire-resistant. And it’s not just mushrooms. In fact, developers are using lots of non-traditional natural materials, including straw bales for framing material, sheep’s wool for insulation and cork for floor tiles. (I knew I was being helpful by opening another bottle of wine!) Not just that, but lichen and moss are making up living walls, and recycled bottles are being used in the production of carpets, as Senior Editor Holly Dutton reports in “How Designers Put Natural Materials to Work in the Office.”

Natural elements are not new, but they’re really starting to “grow” on CRE developers, leading to on-trend designs. (Biophilic design is so hot right now.) Designers are also incorporating nature-inspired features into their office buildings, including adding plants and trees inside the building.

But it’s not just about looks and interior air quality. Using natural materials can help real estate to reduce its carbon footprint because these items sequester carbon, according to Dutton’s reporting. And the Department of Energy reports that commercial buildings account for “18 percent (or 18 quadrillion Btu) of U.S. primary energy use,” showing how vital it is to consider sustainability practices when constructing and designing commercial buildings.

“You lock in carbon savings in your building by using natural materials,” ZGF Architects’ Lona Rerick told Dutton.

Getting fresh design options while reducing a building’s carbon footprint? Talk about a winning combination!

Do you plan on incorporating natural elements into your office buildings? I’d love to hear your thoughts at [email protected].

Read the May 2022 issue of CPE.

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