The time for paying lip service to sustainability has long passed. The moment for practical ways to deliver sustainable workspaces has arrived. How can we implement sustainability into our lives, as individuals and as organisations?
The key is to realise that not all changes need to be massive; even the smallest steps can help contribute to decreasing our collective carbon footprint. We should also not have to choose between becoming sustainable and the bottom line. With over 73% of investors saying that green strategies drive higher occupancy and higher rents, it is clear that the future of the built environment, one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions according to a recent UN report, will be impacted by necessary change.
One solution being implemented globally is retrofitting legacy buildings to improve their efficiency and emit less carbon. This is a critical step towards a net-zero carbon future as old buildings are responsible for a large portion of the world’s energy consumption. By reusing the buildings that we already have and incorporating sustainable office fit outs, we can make them work harder and more cost-effectively.
The Tétris Sustainability Code was developed to enable and drive sustainable thinking, action and innovation throughout the design and build cycle of all Tétris projects.
The global launch of the Tétris Sustainability Code at the Green Building Convention in Cape Town late last year is the group’s commitment across 840 employees, 34 offices in 18 countries working on approximately 4 000 interior projects a year to put practical, measurable and sustainable actions in place to ensure that projects move through sustainable intent and concepts to sustainability delivered.
This is important as inevitably projects can shift from what was intended through budget and delivery pressures to possibly not delivering the best sustainable result against all three of the environment, social and governance (ESG) pillars.
With ESG principles currently the key drivers shaping real estate and workspace decisions, it is now the responsibility of every business leader to help shape the future. The pandemic has shifted our expectations of our workspace and our work life. There are trends emerging of a growth in resignations as people renegotiate their relationship with work and employment.
More than ever before companies will need to ensure that the culture they create and the brands they build demonstrate real commitment to ESG. People feel more comfortable knowing that their company cares – about them, the community and the planet – and office spaces will have to visibly demonstrate that these concerns are being taken seriously.
Sustainability in the built environment is about so much more than going green and addressing climate change. It encompasses employee wellbeing, social responsibility and diverse hiring policies, and today’s companies are putting more focus on incorporating these ESG principles into their company culture.
The Sustainability Code enables Tétris’ clients to demonstrate to their employees their seriousness about sustainable workspaces. After registering the client’s initial ambition for sustainable design features at the beginning of a project, the Tétris team then records the actual features delivered in the built space on completion of the project. The score given measures the gap between what the team aimed for, and what they achieved.
While the commercial real estate sector has a notable role to play in promoting environmental sustainability, building a better world is not just about creating greener buildings. We need to care for each other as well as the earth. For a company to be truly sustainable, focus also needs to be put on employee wellness, social responsibility, diverse and inclusive hiring policies and how a company is managed.
A more holistic and focused view of corporate responsibility is why Tétris created its Sustainability Code. The Code gives a better understanding of the design challenges and measures improvement of a designed space. Importantly, it engenders a culture of innovation. An understanding of sustainable applications at every stage of a project offers the opportunity for trying different ways to do things better.
Because value is placed on closing the gap between the design concept and delivered project, the Code enables productive dialogues with clients around budget and potential cost-cutting versus the future value of having measurably sustainable design features.
To achieve meaningful change, more collaboration is needed. Working in silos will not produce the multi-dimensional solutions we need. We need to welcome and encourage the open sharing of knowledge, intellectual property, technology and ideas. All over the world, buildings are morphing into vertical farms. We need more of this. We also need more belief in the human ability to use moments of serious challenge, as in the case of climate change, as opportunities to respond in innovative and effective ways that benefit the interests of the many together with the natural environment. Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and demands urgent action.