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You always make sure to turn off the lights before you leave a room. You’ve cut your shower time down by four minutes in order to save water. Maybe you’ve even attached solar panels to your house or drive a hybrid car. And all of these actions are crucial to reducing our carbon footprint and making sure our grandkids can still see polar bears. But if you’re like most Americans, you spend 40 hours a week in an office that might not be transmitting these same values.
So it’s important to understand how offices, schools, hospitality or healthcare environments can be just as environmentally conscious as the rest of us. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization (LEED) is a worldwide green certification program with the goal of helping buildings become more environmentally responsible.
The process is simple: capture LEED points by implementing environmentally friendly resources and in return save money and maybe even feel a little better knowing you’re a good Samaritan. Luckily, PURE has a few tricks for capturing LEED points and earning that platinum (80 points!) certification. In return, you’ll cut down on your operating costs by an average of nine percent within the first year and qualify for certain government tax credits.
LED lights require less electricity, last longer than their fluorescent counterparts and emit more light on a dollar for dollar basis. As an added bonus, if you opt for LED lamps versus overhead lights more often, you’ll capture more points in exchange for using less electricity and mercury in your space. Teknion offers a wide range of LED lamps that serve as both task lights and ambient lights, while also maintaining a sleek and modern design. The Zones Arc Floor Lamp will transform a gloomy room into a sunny oasis and give an impression of overhead lighting all within a lamp. The complementary Sanna Lightbar task light will avoid the dreaded cave effect of lighting down a desk because of its unique shape.
Architectural walls put drywall to shame in every aspect of design and efficiency. Teknion’s glass wall systems utilize more environmentally friendly material than drywall, and they are also reusable, making them more cost efficient to both you and the environment. Rather than tearing down and trashing an unwanted piece of drywall, architectural walls can be dismantled and reinstalled in any space to create a more quiet and private work environment. With an option to fit the aesthetic of any office, from colored glass, steel surfaces, or a curved shape, there’s no reason not to ditch the drywall and opt for architectural walls.
Utilizing environmentally friendly furniture doesn’t mean you need to sit on bamboo straw or uncomfortable wooden benches. Kimball has nearly 50 seating lines that all conform to furniture emission standards and are Indoor Air Quality Certified. This means that the materials and production of these chairs have low Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs sound just about as bad as they are, I mean they are literally named “volatile compounds.” These VOCs can come from fuel emission from vehicles, heaters, or other coal and gas emitting processes – including the factory producing the metal chair you’re sitting in. You will literally breathe easier and cleaner if you opt for Kimball’s certified seating options. Plus those LEED points are an added bonus.
Teknion’s Sidewise line of wooden work surfaces and storage received a Greenguard Gold Certification for being made from nearly 100% recycled materials. This unique workspace is designed for the in-between of an open seating room and a private office. It’s a multi-purpose function design of desk and vertical storage, meaning you get the most bang for your buck out of the space (and the LEED points).
Remember that feeling you get when the sun finally comes out after a weekend of rain. After spending a couple days hibernating in bed with whatever you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix, a surprise visit from the sun feels rejuvenating. You ditch the TV and go for a run (or maybe a walk). You finally get around to cleaning out your garage. You’re enthused with a new feeling of happiness and productivity all because of the light.
Offices face this same phenomenon. A dreary, fluorescent-lit office screams prison, and no one wants to feel like their cubicle is synonymous to a jail cell. Gloomy and dim lighting makes the workplace seem unpleasant, which can ultimately decrease employee morale and productivity. Studies have shown that improved lighting can increase productivity by 10 to 50 percent.
This improved lighting comes in two forms: ambient and task lighting. Think of ambient light as light for people, and task light as light for work. Both need to cooperate in order to achieve success.
Ambient light’s goal is to illuminate the room. The Koncept Z-Bar Pendant is a unique solution to outdated overhead lights. This customizable pendant is complete with sleek, floating bars that can be rearranged into different shapes according to your preferences. And as an added bonus, its LED lights mean you’ll capture some extra LEED points for a more eco-friendly workplace.
LED lights also have a blue base, whereas fluorescent lights are more yellow based. Blue light triggers our ganglion cells, which tell the body to wake up and stimulates alertness. Nevermind that extra cup of coffee, just turn on a few more LED lights.
The second half of a beautifully lit office is task lights. Lighting solutions like the Teknion Conflux will transform any gloomy office to a sunny oasis for employees. Complete with LED lighting for a more environmentally friendly alternative and wireless charging portals, this task light perfectly enhances workplace design and efficiency.
However, when choosing task lights it is important to avoid the dreaded cave effect. Lamps often light desks downward, which leaves the surrounding walls and floors dark. Upward facing lighting will create that open, airy office you should be striving for. Humanscale, WorkWell, and Koncept all provide innovative task lights that will reduce glare effects, enhance sustainability, and promote productivity. Think more sunshine, less rain.
So flip the switch on those dingy lights hanging above your head. You’ll feel better, work better, and maybe even look better.