Built to Last: Construction gets the green treatment

Increasingly, we are seeing cities and regions commit to drastically cutting the carbon footprints o

Increasingly, we are seeing cities and regions commit to drastically cutting the carbon footprints of their architecture. - Credit: Archant

60% of construction companies double their sustainable projects in the space of a year as eco-urban living becomes priority.

We've well and truly reached a tipping point when it comes to sustainability. The final warnings from scientists about the climate crisis and the outright war on single-use plastics of recent times have filtered down to our collective eco-conscience. While naysayers remain, more of us than ever before are making the connection between our everyday actions and the health of our planet. This can be seen in the way our habits as consumers and business owners are shifting - for example, sales of compostable food packaging and catering equipment are rising rapidly according to reports.

Permaculture - a movement that's all about co-operating with nature and mimicking its ingenious design - is gaining momentum. Its principles are applicable to architecture and urban planning, so that manmade construction methods become more like natural processes, where things get re-used - just like the water cycle, or forest ecosystems.

While the rapid pace of urbanisation means less of the global population than before is living in humble clusters of self-sufficient huts, there are plenty of ways to incorporate sustainable processes into the fabric of the urban jungles we live and work in. And for corporate real estate executives, leasing sustainably-designed office space on a more flexible basis is becoming easier than ever.

Increasingly, we are seeing cities and regions commit to drastically cutting the carbon footprints of their architecture - or even eliminating them altogether. Chicago recently revealed its goal for its buildings to be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2035.2 And the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (Eurima) has come up with a blueprint for a "circular economy" as a key component for a climate-neutral Europe - which envisions circular, flexible, cognitive buildings that create rather than consume energy.3

Eurima says these types of buildings will not only better support a healthy lifestyle for their occupants, but be better suited to a "24-hour economy" - combining workspace and living space in a way that's more in tune with modern lifestyles.

According to recent research, 60% of construction companies have doubled their number of sustainable projects. We're seeing the global construction industry explore sustainable alternatives to the status quo. Ideas such as adding nanoparticles from carrots to concrete to curb carbon emissions4 and using carbon-neutral graphene-based paints that actively absorb CO2 are all coming to the fore.

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As the buildings and spaces we occupy become more in line with a sustainable future, the way we make sure of them also has a part to play - including the way we consume office infrastructure.

Cultivating a flexible working culture lets corporate real estate executives minimise waste - in time, money and our planet's resources. Opting for flexspace allows companies to hire desk space on a more bespoke basis - rather than powering up a workspace from 9 to 5 everyday, purely because that's what they've paid for. It allows them to scale up or down when required, rather than using more than they need. And a flexible working policy may mean employees spend more time working remotely - and therefore cut their commuting carbon footprint.

A key part of sustainability is only using what you really need. This is why we firmly believe that, as construction companies become much more focused on sustainability, it's our role to keep championing a more intuitive, efficient way for people to run their business and their everyday working lives in the flexible workspaces we provide.


Find out more about how flexible working is inherently sustainable.