As spaces centered around collaboration, sharing, and innovation, coworking spaces are uniquely positioned to come up with creative solutions to environmental sustainability. In fact, coworking is already an inherently eco-friendly way to work – by splitting real estate and overhead costs through membership fees, coworking spaces are not only more efficient when it comes to using energy, they often also function as thriving, multi-use community spaces that improve the neighborhood.
Many coworking spaces are choosing to take their commitment to the idea of green workspace even further. Some, like Green Spaces in Denver and Huckletree in London, have chosen to focus their spaces and their communities on the concept of environmental sustainability. However, if you’re thinking of making some eco-friendly changes to your coworking space, there are plenty of simple measures you can take that will help reduce waste, and have a positive impact when it comes to your carbon footprint.
Reduce, Reuse, Renovate
Whether you’re opening a brand new space or renovating an existing one, how you to choose to build out your space can make a big difference to the building’s sustainability. Rather than gutting and refitting a space with brand new materials, work with existing features and materials to refurbish or repurpose when possible. Preserving the original character of the building will add unique value to your space, and keep renovation waste at a minimum. When it isn’t possible to restore or reuse existing features, opt for renewable or recycled materials, such as bamboo, recycled cork and rubber, or reclaimed wood.
Want to reduce your carbon footprint even further? Install motion sensor lights, CFL or LED lighting, and low water usage sinks and toilets to improve efficiency in the building and your bottom line.
Think Day to Day Use
Behind the scenes measures like energy-efficient lighting and sustainable flooring and are a great start, but what about the waste that occurs in day to day use of the space?
Often, the shared kitchen in a workspace produces both the most waste, and the greatest opportunity for reducing it. One of the easiest ways to tackle this waste is to provide glassware, dishes, mugs, silverware, and other reusable kitchen items alongside basic kitchen appliances like a microwave, dishwasher, or even a cooktop oven to your members. This nips the waste from disposable plates and plastic ware right in the bud, and encourages members to bring their own food from home. When you do have to use disposable or paper products, supply items made from recycled materials.
Another benefit of having a well-stocked kitchen is that it helps create a “second-home” atmosphere for members within the space, meaning they are more likely to feel invested in upkeep, and help enforce community norms around cleanliness and care of communal space.
Recycling within your building is also a major way you can cut down on waste and create a more eco-friendly space. Make it easy for members to recycle throughout their day with ample recycling bins scattered around the space, and easy-to-read, eye-catching signs about what can and cannot be recycled. It won’t always be perfect, but it will make a difference.
For those looking to make a maximum environmental impact, try implementing a composting program.
Go Green Inside and Out
This next idea comes from Second Home in Lisbon, one of Europe’s greenest coworking spaces. This food market turned coworking space designed by architecture firm SelgasCano has a wide variety of environmentally friendly features, but the most striking are the 1000 potted plants that dominate the large, warehouse-style space. Not only do these plants create a better work environment visually and mentally, they are also an energy-efficient way to improve the air quality and provide natural acoustic insulation.
If you’re looking to exercise your green thumb, go for local, drought-resistant plants that won’t take up too much time or resources to care for. Take it to the next level and use plants as part of the décor with hanging planter boxes and other wall installations centered around plant life. You can even create an urban garden to better utilize outdoor space and create an area for members to gather and socialize.
Encourage Sustainable Transportation
To some extent, coworking already encourages eco-friendly forms of transportation in and of itself. Since coworking members choose where they work, they are more likely to select somewhere relatively close to home, and thus more accessible via public transit, biking, or walking. But coworking spaces can do more to incentivize alternative forms of transportation amongst members.
Installing bike racks and choosing a location in close proximity to public transit can help your members eschew their cars in favor of greener modes of travel. Even if bike racks and public transit aren’t viable options where you’re located, consider offering bike or car share programs as part of your membership. It could even be as simple as facilitating carpooling amongst members, and all of it will help cut down on carbon emissions.
Create an Environmentally Friendly Community
Coworking spaces have a lot of potential when it comes to the future of green workspace.
If you’re not sure where to start, look within your own member community! The great benefit of coworking is the diverse set of skills, personalities, and sectors brought together under one roof. It’s likely you’ll find more than a handful of environmental experts, startups focused on going green, or even just environmental enthusiasts within your membership. Getting members involved not only brings in fresh ideas, it also encourages members to invest in the green measures you’re implementing.
You can also provide members with opportunities to network, collaborate, and incorporate social responsibility into their business like CoCoon in Hong Kong. Providing affordable event space for non-profits and community organizations can strengthen ties between local businesses, and encourage members to get involved locally. You can even create a network of environmentally responsible businesses within the area to provide support and share best practices. When focusing on your goals through the help of your coworking community, the possibilities are limitless.
Going one step further to become even more eco-friendly
Are you ready to make a bigger commitment to reducing your space’s carbon footprint? The options are endless, from composting and installing alternative heating and cooling systems, to switching over to solar panels or pursuing LEED Platinum Certification.
Proud of the results? Then make sure to attract members who will appreciate your efforts. List your coworking space in the Cowork7/24 app, so coworkers will easily find their new, green community.
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