Sustainable Design Makes Offices Work Smarter

By Dave Winzelberg |  Aug 24, 2012

People work differently than they did even just a few years ago. And because of that, offices are being redesigned to reflect the trend.

More companies are featuring things like stand-up workstations equipped with treadmills, rooms where employees are encouraged to write on the walls, and cubicles with lower partitions to encourage collaboration.

Because many companies have consolidated their real estate after downsizing personnel in the last few years, office design is following in kind. As office space is reduced, the need for smaller, better designed cubicles increases.

Gone are the old overhead cabinets or shelves for reference books no longer needed as more research is done using the Internet. And instead of a chair for a visitor, there could be a seat cushion atop a file cabinet that can suffice.

Expect to see much more glass and fewer solid walls, which allows more natural light into the interior and cuts down on the need for electric lighting.

Architects and interior designers are also using more green office furniture that's manufactured with sustainable materials within 500 miles from where it will be used to cut down on fuel and transportation costs.

One such office furniture maker, Toronto-based Teknion, makes a modular millwork product that becomes portable as the space changes and is then recycled, avoiding the landfills. Another, Kimball Office, headquartered in Jasper, Indiana, offers furniture made with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management.

In 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council created a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program for commercial interiors, which recognizes the efforts of architects and interior designers that use sustainable materials and promote healthier, more productive work environments that are also more energy efficient.

At the LEED Platinum-rated Bank of America Tower in Manhattan, conditioned air for employees comes from multiple air column units in the tenant space, delivering 62-degree air into a sub-floor air system. The design gives users the ability to control their own space's temperature as well as improve the effectiveness of ventilation.

With a combination of practical use of space and sustainable design, the result is a cleaner, leaner and greener office that sports a smaller carbon footprint as an added bonus.

DAVE WINZELBERG - David Winzelberg is an award-winning reporter who spent 20 years writing for the New York Times. He currently writes for Long Island Business News.

This article originally appeared on The Atlantic Online as part of the Investing In A Better Tomorrow program.

Content may be produced by outside parties not affiliated with Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust or Bank of America Merrill Lynch, nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. These materials are for informational purposes only. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch do not assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone's reliance on the information provided.

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