Design Director Audrey explains how a passion for sustainability helps to create even better workplaces.
Making proactively sustainable choices makes you be more creative. For us, as designers, it’s about changing the mindset away from opting for new things to reusing things as much as possible but doing that in new and interesting ways. Thinking that way expands our brains and is probably good for the soul as well.
On a personal note, I’m from Sydney and living by the ocean you see the impact of waste on the water and wildlife. Perhaps because of that, I’m not keen on fast fashion – I prefer to have fewer, higher quality things and keep them for longer where I can. I try to make choices in my own life that are good for the environment because I think those small shifts can add up to big changes, and the same applies to design and build.
At Maris we implement sustainability for best practice as standard. As a company we always adopt a collaborative approach to our projects, and when it comes to sustainability that’s essential. We’re all always learning about what we can do for the environment as new capabilities evolve, so part of our role is communicating that to clients – understanding their sustainability goals, explaining how we can achieve and enhance them, and then explaining how to optimise use of the space to maximise those benefits.
It starts with sustainable design
Workplace sustainability starts with the design and layout of spaces, implementing a circular and responsible approach from reuse of materials to designing in layers to allow for independent replacement or repairs and future disassembly.
One of the first things I like to think about is making sure we include wellness elements like natural light, biophilic details and a flow that promotes movement. For example, putting staircases in areas where people can see them rather than stuck behind a lift. Including efficient mechanical and lighting systems is essential as well. This all comes under sustainability because if you have better staff wellness it creates better efficiencies and more productivity.
Then we get more into material selection and that’s when we talk about where materials can be reused as well as considering how new materials can be recycled when they come to the end of their life. We look to make sure there are no harmful plastics and chemicals, and if we can keep sourcing local to support the local economy and limit transport emissions. Where possible, it’s also great to use organic products, which are relatively new to the market but have lots of benefits.
Supporting sustainable construction
On site sustainability is essential as well, and we really work hard to make sure everything we do is as positive as possible. For example, we look at responsible waste management, minimising energy use, reducing carbon emissions both directly and in terms of new materials, and taking care to minimise the loss or damage to any habitats and ecosystems.
When clients take ownership of the space at the end of the project, we take care to hand it over properly, so they know to use it for long-term sustainability. For example, we need to make sure they know how to use data from building management systems, that they know and understand what they have in terms of design so they can maximise the benefits.
As a case in point, on a beautiful project for Investindustrial in Knightsbridge, we installed an innovative PNAT Air Factory, which purifies the air through plants. The system’s effectiveness is monitored through a system of sensors and returned in real time on a monitor in reception who can verify the quality of incoming and outgoing air and the number of pollutants removed. That was a groundbreaking inclusion, and one that the client was really excited about.
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