Sustainable office design is the new normal

Project Updates
Sustainable office design is the new normal
April 9, 2018

Sustainable office design has a new star with Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in the financial district of London, housing 4,000 employees and boasting the highest design-stage BREEAM score ever achieved by any major office development in the world.

Innovative power, lighting, water and ventilation systems integrated with smart control networks have resulted in a 73% saving in water consumption and a 35% saving in energy consumption and associated CO₂ emissions. Around 25 million litres of water, or ten Olympic pools, will be saved annually thanks to a system which gathers rainwater and grey water to be recycled for toilets, achieving a net zero use of mains water for flushing.

Ceiling panels which combine heating, cooling, lighting and acoustic functions in a petal-leaf design alongside an onsite combined heat and power generation centre that utilizes waste heat recycling creates savings from integrating multiple functions.


Health and wellbeing baked into sustainability

The evidence for worker health and productivity accrued from green initiatives is growing. Research has shown that even short interactions with nature help workers reduce stress and reorient their thinking.

Professor Joseph Allen at Harvard has demonstrated that cognitive functions increase by 61% to 101% in green building environments with better ventilation standards. This improved cognition impacted a wide variety of skills and tasks, including strategy, crisis response and focus.

The cost argument against sustainable construction no longer holds water. Allen estimates that it costs up to US$40 per person per year to double the ventilation rate in a building, while productivity benefits range from US$6,000 to US$7,000 per person per year.


Malaysia home to innovative designs since the early 1990s

Malaysia has actually been a leading light for innovative designs since the 1990s with the internationally famous Menara Mesiniaga, which has influenced even the architect of the Bloomberg HQ, Norman Foster, in his designs for “The Gherkin”.

Built for IBM’s Malaysian affiliate, this early skyscraper in Subang Jaya is a pioneer of a bioclimatic approach, able to take advantage of local climate conditions to craft responsive designs that maximise utility and comfort while saving on resources.

More recently, Penang’s “Factory in the Forest”, has wowed with its nomination for a 2018 RIBA International Prize, the most prestigious architectural accolade in the world.

The Paramit factory and offices in the Batu Kawan Science Park feature climate-specific designs that save energy and water, employing rain harvesting, sun shielding, responsive lighting and in-slab cooling pipes throughout the factory floor.

The outstanding biophilic design, which recognizes the fundamental human need for a connection to Nature, has built in the tropical rainforest to penetrate, surround and step over the buildings. Canopies of trees are used for shading and reduce the need for artificial cooling. Gardens and waterfalls are assimilated across multiple levels, beautifying and cooling the space.


Holistic living in a financial city

The sustainable designs for TRX have gone beyond individual resource-saving measures or comfortable facilities for office workers towards a more holistic approach that envisions the work environment as fully integrated into a neighborhood living which is brimming with cross-function connections and meaningful interactions.

Its masterplan was granted conditional approval for a Gold Level LEED for Neighborhood Development Plan, and received Malaysia’s first ever provisional neighbourhood-level GBI Township Platinum certification.

TRX will also benefit from state-of-the-art monitoring systems and an on-site water harvesting and treatment plant where 100% of non-potable requirements utilise recycled water. Overall, TRX will have at least 80% wastewater conversion into recycled water, up to 60% reduction in total water demand and 70% waste diverted from landfill.

Meanwhile, the biophilic philosophy is maintained throughout, anchored by a 10-acre multi-level city park. A healthy and connected lifestyle inseparable from nature is actively enabled through pervasive greenery and facilities ranging from rooftop running tracks, communal areas and an extensive network of covered walkways and bridge connections.

Technology and smart design is put to the service of wellbeing with active and passive security measures, low environmental impact materials, urban heat island reduction, curated landscapes, water features, quiet zones and “third spaces” for workers and residents.


Photo Credit : Business Insider Malaysia