Low Carbon Fit Out Checklist

Creating a low-carbon strategy for your business is a complex process. Your company’s property portfolio forms a significant part of this strategy; it makes a major contribution to your carbon emissions.

Is your business ready for a major fit out? If so, you’ll want to make decisions to reduce the company’s carbon emissions. The result is a huge gain in your environmental benefits and all that comes with those benefits. However, it’s first essential to understand what a low carbon fit out is.


What is a Low Carbon Fit Out?

A low carbon fit out is the development of a building interior, with the aim of creating a space that’s low in carbon in everything, from its design, operation, and end of the life cycle. Carbon output is measured in two ways: operational carbon and embodied carbon.

Operational carbon is the carbon emissions generated from operating a building. What generates carbon when operating a facility? Carbon emissions can be created by lights, ventilation systems, heating & cooling systems, and more.

In recent years, more businesses have chosen to reduce their operational carbon. They’ve chosen to use smart lighting & temperature systems, and more. In addition, as hybrid working and smart buildings become the norm, operational carbon emissions will be further reduced.

When it comes to embodied carbon, this includes all the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted in producing materials. For example, the creation of a marble worktop can create emissions from the energy used in transporting the material, emissions created by its manufacture, and more. Embodied emissions include the entire life cycle of a product, from when the raw materials are taken from the earth to when the product is recycled or thrown away at the end of its lifecycle.

When it comes to operational and embodied carbon, operational is usually less than embodied carbon.


Benefits of a Low-Carbon Workplace

Becoming a low-carbon workplace has many benefits, including the following:

  • Save money
  • Reduce carbon footprint
  • Cut energy usage
  • Improve working environment
  • Boost eco-credentials
  • Engage staff
  • Drive innovation
  • Increase productivity

Not only that, but companies also benefit from clients and customers who look to do business with eco-friendly organisations that are doing everything possible to lower their carbon emissions. Sustainability, too, is another in-demand requirement for businesses that customers and clients look for.


Checklist to Design a Low-Carbon Workplace

Before moving ahead with your fit out project, it’s essential to create a checklist to define your project’s low-carbon objectives. You can do that by following these steps to create a checklist.

  • Review the company’s carbon targets & assess how this project can contribute to reducing emissions.
  • Where possible, decide on carbon targets you want to achieve.
  • Consider whether your business needs a full fit out or the plans can be scaled down to reduce embodied carbon emissions.
  • Hold stakeholder forums to discuss objectives and requirements to ensure you have achievable carbon targets.
  • Map out the expectations of investors, customers, and employees.
  • Consider property strategy and determine how reducing carbon emissions will work with your plans.
  • Communicate to key decision-makers the benefits of reducing carbon in your property portfolio.
  • Set out a clear objective brief that includes your carbon targets & defines responsibilities to achieve these targets.
  • If applicable, create an embodied carbon budget
  • If applicable, create an operational carbon budget.


Designing a Low-Carbon Workplace

Before starting your project, it may also be necessary to work with a fit out contractor who can measure and reduce carbon emissions. This needs to be an expert that can offer guidance on lifecycle, maintenance, reusability, and end-of-life options. This is critical.

Product selection must be carefully considered when it comes to construction materials, furniture, furnishings, and more. It’s essential to consider the lifecycle of all products, including what their carbon impacts are during the manufacture, maintaining, and disposing of the products.

Reusing products as much as possible can dramatically reduce carbon emissions during a fit out. The embodied carbon has already been spent, and it saves money to reuse rather than buy new. But what about after reuse? After reuse, it’s best to invest in products that are made with a high ratio of recycled content. These are always a better choice when calculating carbon emissions.

Ongoing maintenance is the next consideration, and it comes into play with a product’s lifecycle. For instance, a wall must be covered with paint or fabric. Paint has a lower embodied carbon than fabric; however, the wall will need to be repainted many times over the life of the building. So, which is best, paint or fabric? This is where the fit out consultant can be of great service. They have the expertise to show you which is best and why.

Once the materials and maintenance have been covered, it’s time to plan the workplace design. The goal is to create a workspace that’s minimalistic without making spaces feel empty and uncomfortable. Remember, keeping employee happiness and wellbeing is also essential to a fit out.

It’s also necessary to make materials go further and to reduce emissions as much as possible. Designers are tasked with creating flexible spaces while reducing carbon emissions.


Low Carbon Fit Out Challenges

When it comes to low carbon fit outs, there are no standardised benchmarks for such workplaces. In addition, embodied carbon is often left out of the calculations all together. Without benchmarks, it’s challenging to predict how successful a fit out project will be in lowering a company’s emissions.

For a successful fit out, it’s essential to work with a fit out contractor who has the knowledge and experience in environmental matters. They can help your business design and create an amazing fit out that’s stunning and comfortable for employees while at the same time lowering your organisation’s carbon emissions.

There are many challenges to creating a low carbon fit out, but it’s worth the time and effort to create a healthy, comfortable workspace for your employees.

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