March 13, 2024

6 Cost-Saving Sustainable Office Design Ideas

Many employees believe that their employer isn’t doing enough to make the workplace sustainable. And they aren’t far off from the truth. Offices have always been energy-guzzling spaces. Lights stay on all day and climate control is set and forgotten about. Utility bills go up, and very little changes.

But some businesses are finding a better way. And even more are realising that sustainable office design not only benefits the environment but also saves money too. In this blog, we’ll dive into the innovative practices shaping work environments worldwide. From biophilic design to eco-friendly materials, we'll explore how forward-thinking companies are integrating sustainability into every aspect of their office spaces. 

Whether you're an architect seeking inspiration or a business owner looking to create a productive workspace, you’ll learn that sustainable office design isn't just about saving the planet—it's about creating healthier, more inspiring spaces where employees thrive.

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4 Benefits of Sustainable Office Design

1. Cost Savings

Sustainable design has a direct and measurable impact on energy efficiency within your office. Simple changes in lighting, HVAC, and more could significantly lower your utility bill for a lease. 

2. Camaraderie Booster

Setting goals for sustainability along with incentives can encourage camaraderie in the office. Green goals encourage staff to take responsibility for office upkeep, and friendly competition can help ease minds in busy workplaces.

3. Supports the Environment

Victoria has new net-zero targets to hit, encouraging more businesses to operate sustainability. Greener office design is not only cost-saving but supports the environment too.  

4. Improves Company Image

Each year, more talented workers are considering sustainability in their job search. A study found that employees are more loyal to companies that take action to become more sustainable. If you have sustainable practices in place at your office, you can leverage this to attract new talent or garner PR coverage for your business. 

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8 Ways You Can Incorporate Sustainable Design Into The Office

1. Smart Bulbs

Lighting accounts for 40% of energy use in commercial properties. Why not make the switch and save with energy-efficient bulbs?

The current generation of LED lighting is the most energy-efficient source of light available for internal use. Smart bulbs make LEDs even more efficient, helping offices save on utilities every month. They’re also one of the easiest things to implement when designing your sustainable office.

Once installed, smart bulbs can turn on and off based on a variety of preset settings (e.g. movement and/or time of day). They can also self-adjust based on natural lighting conditions, further reducing energy use in the office. These systems usually connect to an app, allowing lighting control even when off-site. Property can also set up schedules, even further reducing energy usage.

It may not seem like much at first, but these small changes add up. A few cents daily savings can turn into dollars, and after a few tests, you could slash your energy bill significantly, using that additional cash to grow your business.  

2. Biophilic Design & Natural Lighting

Many studies have shown plants and greenery to reduce stress and improve mood. Desk plants have also been linked to increased productivity in office settings. Biophilic fitout design has a grounding effect in a work setting using natural elements to bring the outdoors inside.

Outside of leveraging natural elements, biophilic design also works to maximise natural light wherever possible. By using translucent wall panels, bay windows and skylights, you can optimise the use of natural light in your fitout. Partitions are also a great way of improving the amount of natural light in your space. Glass partitions can illuminate private offices. Moveable partitions can be repositioned to allow in more or less light.

3. Choosing Sustainable Materials & Furniture

Imagine you find the perfect finish or fixture for your office fitout. The supplier is in Italy. You can choose to get it, and have it sent by land, sea, air (or all 3), leaving a large carbon footprint at every step of the way. Or you can work with a local supplier. 

Opting for local suppliers (something we do here at Canopy) reduces the carbon footprint of your build. Not to mention, materials are delivered quickly, with fewer modes of transport. 

As for furniture, new doesn’t always mean better. Reclaimed and/or vintage furniture can be reused in your office fitout, adding character to your space. If the previous tenant is moving out around the same time you’re moving in, they might also be open to reselling their office furniture. 

Even if you want to design everything with new materials, there are ways you can go about it sustainably. Try to incorporate renewable materials that are known to have rapid growth rates in the environment (e.g. bamboo). 

4. Upgrading Your HVAC

In addition to changing your lights, upgrading your HVAC could make your office even more sustainable. Utilities often contribute to over half of your building's energy use. Installing modern systems designed for energy efficiency can help you save costs over time. This is especially true in much older buildings. 

5. Smart Windows 

As a building generates energy, over a third of it is lost through windows. This energy loss happens even when windows are closed. And it's one of the main reasons why it takes so long to cool an interior through air conditioning. 

We need windows for life-giving natural light. But can they be optimised for energy conservation? Smart windows might be the answer. Also known as smart glass, these double-glazed windows are programmed to respond to stimuli in the environment, adjusting to make an interior space more comfortable for users. Simply put, on hot, sunny days smart windows can tint, reducing the harsh glare and temperature effects of the sun. On colder days, they can be tuned to let more light in, increasing heat inside the office naturally. And if privacy is a concern, certain types of smart windows can frost up, preventing outsiders from looking into an important meeting. 

Having windows like these eliminates the need for blinds. They also could help you save significantly on energy costs, giving you the power to adjust how much heat enters your office daily. 

6. Design For, and Encourage Greener Practices

Technology can help you take massive steps towards office sustainability. But your efforts will be much more effective if you get your team involved. For the ones already commuting sustainably, acknowledge their efforts by installing bike racks in your office. If you have onsite parking, consider installing an EV charging station. 

When embarking on a new fitout project, make it known what green initiatives will be measured and invite building occupants to participate in the program. Once the fitout is complete, share routine updates or install real-time dashboards to help occupants track the impact of recycling and energy conservation over time.

7. Water Saving Fittings

Installing more sustainable plumbing fittings is an effective way of reducing water wastage and reducing property’s costs. Low flow plumbing fixtures can reduce excessive water flow in order to save cost and water. Monitoring water pressure levels can be another great way to keep water costs low. This can help identify any problems early on so the water pressure doesn't damage any fixtures as high water pressure increase the chance of pipe bursts, which will then be costly to fix in the future.

8. Long Lasting Flooring

Using sustainable materials for your flooring can save you heaps of money in the long run. Long haul durable, low maintenance flooring material like polished concrete is affordable and lasts a lifetime. We also know your floor needs to look the part and match the rest of your fitout space, that’s why our in-house designers can suggest sustainable options that are long lasting and affordable, that also matches your business’ aesthetic.

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Encourage Sustainability Through Design

Designing your office for sustainability isn’t as hard as it seems. Through effective use of materials and technology, you can lower your carbon footprint, increase productivity, and save on utility bills. 

Want to learn more about how a fitout can improve your space? Check out this guide. Ready to create your sustainable fitout? Speak to our team today and we’d be more than happy to give you advice on cost, budgets, requirements, and timeframes for your office or commercial fitout. Give us a call at 1800 434 868 or email