Sustainable Office Design: How to Create Eco-Friendly Work Environments

7 minute read

As employers and companies, it’s important to want to inspire others with a commitment to sustainability, reducing energy and bringing more green office ideas to the forefront. Pioneering an environmentally friendly working environment is a great place to start. From the artificial lighting we install to the recyclable materials and furniture we use, there are several areas to explore for sustainable office practices. Not only does this positively impact carbon emissions, but it also improves employee wellness by exercising best practices with corporate responsibility and encouraging the office environment to be more conscious of its footprint for a better future.


Picture by Clint Randall

The Principles of Sustainable Office Design

When looking at the fundamentals of what a great office space should look like, features such as office furniture, natural light and colour schemes for wallpaper and paint are ones to bear in mind. However, when looking at the principle of sustainable and eco-friendly office design, there are other areas to consider such as resource conservation and renewable materials. When starting with a blank page, think about your sustainability objectives and what you want to achieve as part of this re-design or opportunity to add more ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Some companies strive to achieve SKA ratings as part of their commercial fit-out, an initiative by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors that acts as a benchmark and standard that prioritises sustainability. From energy consumption to waste, water, materials, well-being and CO2, these are factored into the rating and could help influence your choices. Cobus Spaces has great expertise in this area and can advise on what practices are best as part of the design element of the project.

Key Strategies for Eco-Friendly Office Design

It’s essential that each new office design starts with a plan which contains key strategies that you would like to implement when it comes to the office supply of eco-friendly materials and installation. There are five areas in particular that deserve some thought when looking at how to make this happen, that reduces stress and that create a better working experience for all.

Energy Efficiency

An energy-efficient office design is a great way to start your strategy as it allows you to investigate how your office is being powered, what renewable energy sources you can utilise and how you can also save money in the long run. Energy-efficient lighting such as LED lightbulbs is one of many steps to take, including timers and sensors on lighting when there is inactive traffic in the office. Also look at smart thermostats that can help regulate the temperature in the office during working hours and weekends, as well as solar panels which can be hugely beneficial for powering lighting, computers, printers and so much more.

Sustainable Materials

Whether you’re choosing office furniture or looking at options for paint samples or wall panelling, there is a wide variety of items on the market that come from sustainable sources. A plethora of leading brands have an outstanding range of responsibly sourced materials for interior design that have low environmental impact – our expert team are on hand to guide you on which manufacturers are best in this respect. Also, explore furniture and building materials that have been recycled. Whether that’s purchasing from a second-hand shop, upcycling, or commissioning new pieces to be made from recycled goods.

Indoor Air Quality

The environment that you and your team are operating in on a daily basis needs to be a comfortable one, and the indoor air quality is a vital factor in this. It’s not enjoyable working in a stuffy office or a space where the temperature makes you feel too hot or cold. Introducing more natural light and fresh air improves employee wellbeing, as does ventilation systems and air-purifying plants which not only help to improve the air quality but also boost your green credentials incorporated within the interior design. Plants also help to absorb excess noise and can help to lower stress thanks to their association with nature.

Waste Reduction

A fundamental part of any property or kitchen area is waste reduction and the use of dedicated bins such as areas for plastic, paper, aluminium, glass and food. Implementing recycling programmes in your company gives employees an incentive to improve their recycling habits with recycling stations and colour-coded containers. You can also go one step further by offering unwanted items to a charity that is close to the company’s heart or invite staff to donate old clothes that can be recycled elsewhere. If there is space outdoors or you have a relaxing spot for people to unwind in during breaks, this could also be an opportunity to introduce composting options or your own fruit and veg patches.

Water Conservation

If you have an office that features a large amount of individuals and teams, think about how much water is used in just one day. From the water that goes into the kettle to the amount of toilet flushes, there are effective ways to conserve water such as low-flow fixtures and installing dual flush toilets so that water isn’t being over-used or wasted. If you’re in an older building carry out maintenance and check for leaks or invest in rainwater harvesting systems that collect water and can be reused in the office. Not only does this save money on your water bill but also helps to meet Environmental, Social and Governance guidelines.

Impact of Unsustainable Office Spaces

It’s easy to see how even small changes can make progress when looking to design a sustainable office and they all contribute to making your work space a more positive place to be. Using non-renewable resources, not taking note of best recycling practices and sticking to traditional methods not only contribute to higher energy bills, but contribute to climate degradation. Also, having poor indoor air quality, not enough natural light and purchasing furniture made from toxic materials have an effect on the well-being of your team and can contribute to health issues such as respiratory problems. For employers and companies that want to entice workers back into the office, it’s essential to look at ways to make the office as inviting as possible and to be part of the change for good one step at a time. We all want our offices to be a place of positivity and educating others on doing our bit to help the planet.


Whether you want a complete office re-fit from scratch, renovations on your workplace or guidance on how to elevate your sustainable credentials in the office, Cobus Spaces can assist. This mission isn’t new to us as we’ve been selling second-hand furniture since the 1970s and have stood by revolutionising working environments with innovative thinking. From our first consultation, we’ll discuss your key strategies for an eco-friendly office and explore how we can incorporate these assets as part of our 4-stage approach from conception to completion whilst bringing in creativity with climate change at the forefront of our thinking. We’re excited to collaborate on making your office more sustainable for the future.