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Sustainable Designs For A Better Workplace

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Arnab Ghosh,  National Director, Corporate Fitouts, Colliers International IndiaArnab has held key positions across companies such as Synergy Property Development Services, TGI Developments, and Development Consultants, prior to joining Colliers in 2019.

As real estate moves towards institutionalization, sustainable building elements need to be promoted so that they form a significant part of the upcoming supply. Industry stakeholders need to consider the long-term benefits of sustainable green buildings from an energy savings perspective. It is even more important at a time when India's first REIT has been successful. With professional management and international standards based valuation of properties (International Valuation Standards(IVS)/ RICS Red Book)being adopted across, sustainable design practices would be a mandatory credential for buildings.

India's current green building footprint is about 5.3 billion square feet (492.6 million square meters), ranked second only to the United States. Policymakers, developers and corporations are increasingly identifying the environmental, social and economic benefits of adopting green initiatives. Various state governments offer incentives such as a higher floor space index, financial assistance and faster clearances for green developments.

Sustainability has been taught as the core of urban planning and architecture for years, yet widespread adoption of those design principles has been lacking in this country. Successful LEED ratings of commercial buildings by leading developers had helped the cause but a lot more need to be done by all of us.
Over the last five years, sustainable workplace strategy has become the buzzword in CRE as occupiers are emphasizing on ‘employee wellness'and ‘carbon footprint' of their facilities. Good workplace design must understand the effect that the workplace has on the environment and society today. Adopting sustainable design measures and practices help a firm to build its identity by advancing environmental permits, fulfilling corporate responsibilities and enhancing the employee wellness. It adds value to real estate assets and human capital. Promoting health and wellness by creating sustainable workplace help to attract top talent and premium occupiers. With the help of the latest technological innovations and AI, firms are now making use of resources intelligently reducing waste and increasing operational efficiency.

In tune with the objectives of occupiers, workplace strategies revolve around measures that reduce the environmental or ecological footprint and enhance the quality of life of the occupants. Principles of sustainable design are deeply embedded with environmental protection, economic and social development goals.

Sustainable workplace design strategy also emphasizes creating a biophilic design that improves mental wellness and boosts productivity. Human beings have a strong connection with nature and increasingly CRE professionals are trying to create ways where people feel being connected to nature. Ample natural daylight, high ceiling for better ventilation, improved indoor environment ensure mental and physical wellness.

An advanced approach to energy efficiency through a combination of technologies can reduce costs and minimize wastage. Use of sensors to control lights in low use areas & timers for after office hours, energy efficient lighting systems can increase the energy efficiency of the workplace.

Sustainable workplace design principles should also be implemented during construction and building operations. Usage of construction materials that are ecofriendly and have minimal environmental footprint is being considered by multinational occupiers.

A new design thinking approach is slowly gaining ground which talks about circular design and economy. It explores new ways to create sustainable, resilient, long lasting value in the circular economy chain. Materials are being chosen after understanding its inherent lifecycle, old materials are being redesigned and reused in this new methodology.

At its core, sustainable design at the workplace should be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the client organizations. To achieve India's Green City Mission goals, monitoring of building design and materials, the use of energy efficient technology and compliance with the sustainability guidelines are essential for future workplaces.