Businesses can potentially reduce costs while improving their environmental performance if they pay more attention to sustainability issues, it has been suggested.
Martin Hunt, head of networks and partnerships at Forum for the Future, said many companies have no idea about the impact of their buildings upon the environment.
He suggested that many are failing to collect data in the right way, and as such lack insight into areas such as efficiency and energy consumption.
“One of the first things to do would be to get a clear idea of how their buildings are performing against a number of different environmental factors,” Mr Hunt claimed.
Then companies should – where possible – benchmark buildings against each other and try to discover which ones are performing well.
This should give them an indication of what needs to be done to bring their current office premises up to scratch.
“A lot of the time, it will be down to the behaviour of people in those buildings,” Mr Hunt stated.
“You could have the greenest building in the world, but actually, if people don’t know how to use it in the right way or are not engaged in trying to be sustainable, a lot of the time it will underperform against how it was designed to perform.”
He suggested that companies should review how their office space is used, in order that they can discover more efficient ways of working.
Is it about new technology, is it making staff aware, simplifying procedures, or is it about discovering efficiencies elsewhere, Mr Hunt questioned.
For instance, some companies may wish to rationalise the workspace or the buildings they use.
“A lot of the time, the space isn’t used in the right way in the first place, or they have got meeting rooms and workspace areas that are not heavily utilised at all,” he asked.
Schemes such as hot-desking – which use flexible working to reduce the number of workstations in the office – may be able to help in this sense, Mr Hunt suggested.
“From an efficiency point of view and if done the right way, they can actually save quite a lot of energy,” he noted.