As society becomes more aware of the environment and the challenges surrounding sustainability, commercial properties need to go beyond the typical end-of-trip and lifestyle facilities and NABERS rating tick box and begin pushing the boundaries on each high-impact element in a building that could affect the overall environmental footprint of the building.
Things like solar panels on roofs, solar facades and grey water and black water recycling are steps in the right direction, however they face a number of implementation barriers including cost constraints and legislative complications.
Instead, property and development teams should begin thinking more innovatively, creating alliances with neighbouring buildings to increase opportunity for shared space, which Brisbane City Council promotes in their Breathing Cities document.
One innovative idea could be transforming ground floors, or other large internal spaces, into areas that are completely openable to bring the outdoors inside, and which can be shut down for security or weather events.
Not only would this drastically reduce the reliance on air-conditioning, it would create the feel of indoor-outdoor workspaces which could increase productivity and workplace enjoyment.
Designers could landscape the entire ground floor from the street into the building and around the building core, integrating learning/working areas into this space to bring the greenery back into the sprawling urban jungles. This design is also region-dependent and could be tailored to suit the sub-tropical climate of Brisbane, or the more temperate climate of Melbourne.
As the workforce becomes more flexible, and as iGen workers influence office design outcomes, our buildings need to respond by becoming more innovative and unique in how they are used throughout all hours of the day – whether it’s a weekday or weekend.
The future of the built environment rests in the hands of technology and environmentally conscious design principles that will create spaces that all generations can be proud to work in.
The commercial buildings of the future will not only be technologically advanced, but they will create environments that aid in the health and wellness of all occupants – whether they are an iGen, a baby boomer or anything in between.