Workspace Design Show

26 – 27 February 2025 | Business Design Centre, London

Speakers Q&A: How have you been using sustainable products and implementing sustainable designs in their offices?

Cristiano Testi, Principal Director at tp bennett

The embodied carbon of materials contributes to at least 40% of a building’s total carbon footprint – for offices this can be as much as 60-70% (World Green Building Council, 2021), meaning that nearly two thirds of its carbon footprint can be ‘blown’ before the first user switches on the first light. 

As an international design practice, the materials we specify are both our most significant environmental impact, and our greatest opportunity to achieve positive change!

However, true “sustainability” should consider more than just environmental factors – and must also focus upon social interfaces; most notably for those working in higher-risk supply chain manufacturing processes.

To bring together all elements of sustainability, tp bennett has developed AD-Lib; a responsible sourcing product library, enabling our colleagues to make informed decisions when specifying materials.

Claire Henderson, Inclusive Design Lead, Workplace Design at HMRC

HMRC, as a UK Government body, has a responsibility to ensure we are a considerate client and as such our Locations Programme has very much driven a sustainable agenda from day 1, local procurement is always our preferred route, we seek innovative products made from recycled materials as well as longer lifecycle products to reduce the need to regularly replace. This is also something we ensure all of our suppliers have embedded in their processes so that it flows down the supply chain and hopefully drives a change throughout the industry.

Consideration to how we ensure the ongoing operation of our buildings is sustainable is also high on our agenda, for example how we can drive better waste management and user behaviours around recycling through design as well as thinking about how our building management systems can drive energy efficiencies.

Paula Rowntree, Head of Workplace Design at Lloyds Banking Group

Sustainability is a core of our strategy as a business so how we design with sustainability at the heart is front and centre for us. Our supply chain is encouraged to bring new, innovative products to our attention and we regularly run an Innovation Dragons Den with our Sustainability team to encourage companies to share with us what they are doing – clearly this is a space where innovation and creativity is driving lots of fantastic initiatives to improve the basics of heating and lighting systems as well as innovation in furniture and biophilia.  Driving to net zero is a minimum standard we are setting ourselves.

Natasha Hewlett, Senior Project Designer at Peldon Rose

As designers we should be questioning every product choice we make, designing out waste wherever we can and thinking about the entire life cycle of each and every specified item. Sustainable design also encapsulates how flexible and adaptable a workspace can be as well as what material is chosen for a worktop, for example. Reducing waste (and therefore carbon) is important on any fit out and there are many ways this can be achieved – from flooring take back schemes to furniture reuse/rental offerings. Sustainability should be on the forefront of every supplier and installers mind too, connecting the entire chain from design to build and then throughout the entire products life cycle.

Naomi Sakomoto, Senior Associate, Gensler

As architects and designers, we have a mandate to inspire and deliver stepwise change in response to the climate crisis. The success of our 2030 commitments relies on the work we design and deliver today. Each of us must begin by upskilling ourselves and recalibrating our concept of good design in the context of the environmental challenge we face. We must collaborate with our clients to establish audacious goals that tell a unique story about the site, the values, and their brand. We must collaborate across the value chain to bring this vision to reality, from consultants and manufacturers to start-ups and universities, to bring new technologies to market. Every project is an opportunity to pivot from architecture that does less harm, to architecture that restores the environment around us.