Guest Blog | 7 Eco-Friendly Office Renovation Materials

by Matt Hall | Shire Doors


Is your office looking a little tired? Thinking of ripping it all out and starting again? While you may think that renovation over reconstruction might represent less of an environmental consequence than starting a new building from scratch, throwing out the old is always going to produce a heavy footprint.

Consider: Every piece of furniture you throw away: every light fitting, every wall panel, every cabinet and computer that finds its way into a big pile - all gets filed under “Trash” and ends up polluting the planet. This is where material choice is key, from the most basic of fixtures to windows to doors and flooring.

Eco-renovation is more than just recycling the waste - it’s about considering what you replace it with. 


Custom-built Eco-buildings 


One Angel Square, Manchester

One Angel Square is the new headquarters for the Co-Op Group - a new build with sustainability at the heart of its design.

The open-plan design relies on natural lighting, and the building incorporates a “grey-water” recycling system for toilet flushing and rainwater recycling for general irrigation. The building draws heat up from underground to warm the building, significantly cutting the building's power consumption.


One Embankment Place, London

One Embankment Place was a renovation project that, at the time, resulted in the most sustainable building in the world; demonstrating that sustainable office renovation is possible. 

Cooling, heating, and power are fueled by recycled vegetable waste. The building emits up to 40% less carbon than other buildings of equivalent size, and 60% of its energy is produced on-site.


Inspired?

 

Here’s a list of materials that can make your smaller-scale office renovation a sustainability success. 


1. Buy Reclaimed or Recycled


Consider how you could incorporate reclaimed wood into your office renovation, injecting character and retro chic.

 

Recycled glass is the perfect eco-friendly material for facades, desks and counter-tops. While marble and granite are popular choices for office refurbs, the quarrying and engineering methods used to source them aren’t sustainable. Recycled glass provides a similar finish and is less resource-hungry.


Pile of Recycled Glass Jars and Bottles

 

2. Bamboo


Bamboo grows up to a foot in length every day, and the plant continues to flourish after harvest.  In comparison, a tree cut down for wood takes 50-100 years to grow, while harvesting usually kills the tree.

Extremely hard-wearing, attractive, and with natural moisture- and scratch-resistance, use it for flooring, cladding, decking, and furniture.   


Bamboo Fence


3. Fibreboard


Fibreboard is made from waste wood products - sawdust, chips, shavings, etc. - and is, therefore, a favourable eco-friendly material.

 

Fibreboard is available as HDF (high-density fibreboard), MDF (medium density fibreboard) and particle board (or low-density fibreboard).

Inexpensive and durable, fibreboard is a versatile material, perfect for office furniture such as desks and cabinets.


Fibreboard Texture


4. Hempcrete


Hemp, as a crop, is about as eco-friendly as you get. It requires no pesticides, no chemical feed, and actually improves bad soil.

Hempcrete is a mix of hemp and lime and has significant insulation properties.

If you're considering extending as well as renovating, hempcrete is the perfect eco-friendly material.


Hempcrete Wall


5. Glass


Taking a tip from the Co-Op, state-of-the-art insulated windows and doors bring in heat and light, while high-quality units help to keep the heat inside.

Low emissivity glass (aka “Low-E glass”) has superior thermal insulation properties - taking the load off heating systems - while protecting the inside from UV and infrared rays.

Air-conditioning systems usually demand that windows are kept continuously shut. This is bad practice from a sustainability perspective. It should be possible to open your windows and switch off your air-con when it's not needed.

Bi-fold doors, extending across an entire wall, allow light to flood into an office space while providing an attractive portal to the outside when the weather is clement. With so many different designs, bi-fold doors are the perfect solution for those who want a modern aesthetic, with eco-friendly credentials.


6. Cork


While polished wood flooring provides a stunning finish, it’s certainly not the most sustainable option.

Cork flooring is moisture-, mould-, and fire-resistant, and harvested from the bark of cork oak trees. The tree doesn’t need to be chopped down, making cork wholly sustainable. 


Cork Board with Post-It Note


7. Swap your bulbs


One of the most significant ways of reducing the carbon footprint of your office space is to replace your lighting with LEDs.

Traditional, incandescent bulbs convert just 10% of the electrical energy they consume into light - the rest is wasted heat.

LEDs emit very little heat, using less energy to provide bright, stimulating light for your office space. 


Row of Light Bulbs