A sustainable environment – workplace and worldwide.
The second panel discussion at this year’s TechoCon was conducted in English and, in contrast to the morning session, was focussed on the physical environment of office buildings and specific experience with the ways in which sustainability must be reflected in new concepts for working. In comparison with the first discussion, it was more focussed on “hard” attributes of today’s offices – buildings and the work conditions of the people who spend a large part of their day there.
In contrast to the sceptical talk given by architect Zdeněk Fránek on the Creative Stage, who created a stir with the claim that nothing good is generated today in office buildings, the second panel discussion covered the theme of sustainable buildings and the work of people in them.
“Today around 75-80% of new office buildings have LEED or BREEAM certification. It is now such an essential and standard feature that no one questions it,” stated Eva Nykodymová of SKANSKA. For their building Visionary they obtained WELL certification, which included on site monitoring of, for example, water and air quality, as well as complex parameters such as illumination and lighting, thermal comfort and noise. In contrast to environmental certificates, such as LEED or BREEAM, WELL certification is not issued just on the basis of completed forms, but on the basis of actual measurements in situ.
Gideon van der Burg of the company Leesman is convinced of the importance of certification programmes such as LEED, BREEAM and WELL. “They are not just ‘pieces of paper’, but they clearly confirm the value of a given building,” he said.
Rick Veenendaal, who is manager of Circular Economy at Gispen, and is responsible for the transition to the circular business model, described his experience of working for a global producer of office furniture. “We have to respond to requirements from Japan, the Netherlands… from wherever. The circular economy model significantly reduces the level of pollution and also contributes to reducing the world-wide level of inequality,“ he says. According to Gispen, the circular economy today is not just a pipe dream. Developments are enabling new methods of management of production and consumption, the reuse of raw materials and more efficient methods. Here too the panellists see significance for the concept of sustainability.
In another part of the panel discussion, moderator Daniela Písařovicová asked the panellists about their personal preferences and experience with work environments. How do you imagine the ideal workplace? Dan Heuer of consultants Fair Venture likes working in coworking environments and from home, it depends on his mood and the type of work. An interesting observation was on the role of soft seating – from arm chairs to sofas and bean bags etc. This form of furniture is today an integral part of office interiors and, among other things, it changes the position of people when working – it has long been the case that office work is not just sitting behind a desk. “The right kind of sustainability is concealed within a firm. It arises from the business focus, employees and the willingness to do something for the general good,” says Dan.
And what are the panellists’ market predictions? Where will we be in ten years in the area of sustainable office buildings and the workplace environment? “In the same way that twenty years ago we had no idea what offices today would look like, the attention we pay to ergonomics and the furnishing of space, so today we can have no idea what will be in ten years’ time,” agreed the panellists.
Both the panel discussions at TechoCon show how everything is interconnected and it is not possible to separate the environment from users, and vice versa. Form cannot conceal insufficient content: in the case of the office environment it is primarily a sense and feeling of belonging. Well-Being and sustainability are two interconnected concepts: inner satisfaction and a feeling of security among employees provides companies with better and measurable results.