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  1. 1. AECOM | See further:the resourceful occupier issue Going round in virtuous circles Imagine an office that flexes and adapts to your needs? Imagine a place that is built with less material, that’s easily refurbished, is equipped with the latest technology and creates no waste? Sustainability expert Dave Cheshire takes a stroll around tomorrow’s greener workplace. 6
  2. 2. AECOM | See further:the resourceful occupier issue One solution is to move away from the current wasteful and inefficient linear economy to a more circular economy. The fast pace of change in today’s offices means that fit outs are vulnerable to the vagaries of fashion and the Next Big Idea in IT. The fast pace of change in today’s offices means that fit outs are vulnerable to the vagaries of fashion and the Next Big Idea in IT.To avoid the trap of becoming rapidly outdated or even obsolete, one solution is to move away from the current wasteful and inefficient linear economy — based on make, us and dispose, to a more circular economy that is rooted in keeping materials and components in use for longer and ensuring that they can be reused, reclaimed or recycled. The principles of the circular economy model in the office include: Procure a service rather than a product — lease don’t buy. Consider the service life of each component and design elements with a short lifetime to be rapidly altered and upgraded. Differentiate between component that are ‘consumable’ and those that are ‘durable’, and then aim to extend the life of the durable components (e.g. building services) and ensure that the consumables (e.g. carpets) can be readily recycled into new products. Lease don’t buy This culture change is based on giving manufacturers responsibility for the maintenance, upgrade and disposal of their products. It will encourage more consideration about the whole lifecycle, including maintenance, upgrade and eventual disposal. And this should avoid the current market failures where products have built- in obsolescence or where materials have a lifespan far longer than they need, meaning they persist in the environment. Occupiers often procure information and communications technology (ICT) on a service contract with multifunction devices leased rather than owned, as are our computers and screens.This model is already being extended to other areas. For example, the world’s largest manufacturer modular carpet, Interface, has offered a ‘flooring service’ for the past 15 years. This enables subscribers to lease a floor covering that is maintained and replaced as patches of it wear out or need to be changed. Meanwhile, Philips Lighting is now offering a ‘pay-per-lux’ service where the occupants buy for a lighting service that provides the appropriate levels and quality of lighting that is required in a workspace. Landlords could even offer the leasing service as part of the service charge, so helping to bridge the gap between landlord and tenant. 7
  3. 3. AECOM | See further:the resourceful occupier issue 50-75 years 15-20 years 5-10 years Day-to-day Services Accessible, demountable services Modular systems allowing upgrade Lease arrangements (e.g. Lighting) Scenery Re-locatable partitions Modular components System Furniture (e.g.Tea points) Shell Flexible space with long spans Generous floor to ceiling heights Flexible and spacious cores and risers Settings Durable components (e.g. Fan coils) Consumables (e.g. Carpets) Plug and play systems Leasing furniture and equipment Branding and wayfinding Consider service life and flexibility Figure 1 shows how office fit outs can be separated into layers with each one having different lifetimes and characteristics. The shell needs to be able to accommodate change by being as flexible as possible.The services should be designed to allow for simple, rapid upgrades using plug-and-play technology and leasing arrangements to pass responsibility onto the manufacturer (or landlord) for upgrades and changes. For the scenery, making partitions with polymers that will last for decades seems inappropriate when they are likely to be replaced within five years, partially dismantled and then thrown in to landfill. A number of manufacturers are creating interiors that are entirely modular so that partitions can be dismantled, relocated and given different surface finishes and configurations. The settings comprise a combination of consumable and durable products. Making partitions with polymers that will last for decades seems inappropriate when they are likely to be replaced within five years. Figure 1 8
  4. 4. AECOM | See further:the resourceful occupier issue Lease service instead of purchase equipment ‘Pay-per-lux’ (Philips) lighting service Buy-back furniture Ten year leasing arrangements for furniture Ecophon Plug and play, modular design Modular designs that can be constructed from standard components;assembled off-site with tailored finishes;and easily modified to create new spaces e.g.Tea points, re- locatable partitions Fully assembled door sets Consumable components Designed for a short lifetime and to be re-used and recycled (not downcycled). Need to be non-toxic and simple to deconstruct, uses natural materials e.g. Cardboard furniture, recyclable carpets and ceiling tiles Cradle-to-cradle process Durable components Extend life Repair, upgrade and re-manufacture e.g.Terminal units (Fan coil units etc.), luminaires 3D printing technology Consider consumable and durable products and materials Durable components with a longer service life, such as building services, are kept in service for as long as possible by designing out obsolescence and allowing for simple upgrades. This is more likely to happen if the manufacturer has responsibility for servicing the building, as discussed above. Consumable components, such as carpets and furniture can be designed with a shorter life and made of natural materials that can easily be recycled or broken down at end of life. Several carpet manufacturers already have ranges of carpets that meet these criteria, and some furniture manufacturers are designing closed- loop products. For example, a number of chair manufacturers are designing their products so that they can be readily recycled and some have branched into producing cardboard furniture. Summary Figure 2 shows the different approaches discussed above can be applied to an office fit out. Already we know that we can design offices that can flex and adapt rapidly, that can be built with a smaller volume of materials, incorporate the latest technology and generate less waste. But to translate this knowledge into everyday practice, we need a culture shift to reconsider the whole way that offices are designed and procured. We know it is possible — the future is looking circular. By Dave Cheshire david.cheshire@aecom.com Dave is based in AECOM's London office. To translate this knowledge into everyday practice, we need a culture shift to reconsider the whole way that offices are designed and procured. Figure 2 9

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