Organisations are realising the importance of "going green" in sustainable office design

Sustainable Workplace Design: Interview with IndesignLIVE

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Looking back to the interview I did with Narelle Yabuka of IndesignLIVE in 2012, the same principles still apply today to sustainable workplace design.

Here’s some of the points I raised.

The governments of many Southeast Asian nations have demonstrated leadership in establishing sustainable building and corporate interior certification schemes, and green labelling schemes for products and materials – for example Green Mark and the Green Labelling Scheme in Singapore. Multinationals are also active in the region and have applied global CSR/ESD goals to their premises, particularly new ones. Many of these seek certification (“LEED plus Local”) but others have their own internal targets, which are equally valid.


In talking about opportunities for Asian innovation in sustainability:

There are a couple of major challenges that immediately come to mind. The tropical climate across most of the region creates a dependence on air-conditioning, which means natural methods of heating/cooling and ventilating are generally impractical and not commercial. If we take the need for air-conditioning as a given (at least for the immediate future) there is a significant untapped opportunity for private and public sector leadership in developing more energy-efficient ways of cooling commercial buildings.  Greater occupant tolerance for temperature variation would also help reduce the load on building HVAC systems.


Noting the challenges and disincentives for businesses to invest in sustainable design:

The other significant challenge is the short term, cost-driven focus of many Asian business leaders, including corporate real estate executives. Many sustainable workplace initiatives have a payback period of 3 to 5 or even 10 years, however most projects are implemented within a capital budget that takes no account of operating savings.  Further, short-term leases promote a ‘disposable’ approach to interior fitout that is contrary to sustainable values.


There’s plenty more so read the full interview here: Sustainable Workplace Interview with Caroline Burns by Narelle Yabuk (Opens in a new window/tab).

This interview was inspired by a number of conference presentations on sustainable workplace design that I did in Singapore, Malaysia and China including for BEX Asia and BCA/International Facility Management Association.

Follow-up articles exploring specific aspects of sustainable design and featuring three different client project case studies include “Zeroing in on Green” in Dwell Asia, January/February 2013, “Green the New Gold – Sustainability is the key to 21st century office of the future as it not only increases energy savings but also makes perfect business sense” in New Straits Times, 30 November 2012 and “Changing Habits – American Express’ Singapore offices redefine the corporate workplace with spaces that offer increased adaptability and engagement”, Cube Magazine, April-May 2012.

If you would like to read any of these articles please contact me for a copy.

InDesignLIVE Singapore interview with Caroline Burns on sustainable workplace design

InDesignLIVE Singapore interview with Caroline Burns on sustainable workplace design

For fellow professionals, do check out IndesignLIVE, INDESIGN, Cubes and Design Quarterly published by Indesign Media, they are a great source of current industry news from Asia and Australia, and committed to supporting and promoting great interior design in our region.