What if a commercial office building was capable of giving just as much as it received? In other words, what if the building itself could generate just as much power as it consumes, thereby nullifying not only electrical bills, but lessening environmental impact at the same time? That’s the concept behind net-zero buildings, a trend which is currently gaining strength in the corporate sector.
Net-zero commercial building designs are quickly becoming a first-stage priority for many companies, and that will only continue as technology improves. What does the future hold for this particular form of office design? The answer may surprise you. Today, we’re going to look at the biggest reasons why net-zero commercial buildings are picking up steam, and how they factor into interior office design as a whole.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEANS OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY
The cornerstone selling point of net zero buildings is, without a doubt, energy efficiency. However, within the overarching concept of interior office design, this can mean many things, from crafting workspaces that minimize energy consumption at every turn, to incorporation of green design motifs such as biophilic design. For example, the use of natural light, which is proven to boost employee morale and overall productivity.
Large windows, generous skylights and open spaces are fully capable of harnessing daytime sunlight, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting, while cutting down on electricity usage. Better yet are energy-efficient HVAC systems, smart lighting controls and sustainable materials, all of which contribute to the overall energy efficiency of these office spaces.Expect this trend to continue unabated as offices around the globe push for a more natural form of net-zero office design.
Achieving net zero status still isn’t a complete possibility, though office buildings are taking the first steps by adopting renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal heating and cooling systems. These technologies are not only environmentally friendly but also contribute to a more sustainable and cost-effective office environment. The surplus energy generated can be fed back into the grid or stored for future use, making these buildings self-sustaining, while reducing their carbon footprint.
The goal over the next several decades is to research and develop even more robust and effective versions of these existing technologies to service large corporate and industrial clusters within towns and cities. This will affect interior office design as well, allowing companies to streamline operations without spending unnecessarily on standalone energy sources.
Net-zero office buildings are designed to be constructed with sustainable materials that boast a much lower impact on the environment. In fact, modern designers and architects are frequently turning to recycled, reclaimed, or rapidly renewable materials, as well as sustainable building practices like modular construction and green roofs. The use of such materials and techniques not only reduces the environmental impact, but also enhances the aesthetics and functionality of the workspace.Expect to see more of these “green” buildings as the years go by, if you haven’t already. They are quite popular around the globe, from Switzerland to Singapore, Germany and France, and North America.
Net-zero buildings are going to increase their use of smart technologies as time goes by, and this will have a rather significant impact on the quality of the daily work routine. For instance, the integration of sensors and automation systems currently allows for real-time monitoring and optimization of energy use, air conditioning, and lighting. This is already a major step up from the antiquated control mechanisms of yesteryear, but now, individual employees are able to control their environment and workspace settings through smartphone apps or smart AI systems, contributing to a comfortable and energy-efficient office experience for all.
The trick, as always, will be to accommodate everyone as much as possible, but future technological advances are already heading solidly in that direction. Besides lowering the overall power draw, they make for a far more robust control system within the office, which is great for everyone.
The future of net-zero buildings will depend a lot on trust, safety standards and certifications, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the Living Building Challenge. Such certifications will continue to set standards for sustainable building practices, energy efficiency, and environmental responsibility, and these will morph over time to encompass a wider range of criteria, while taking into account new technologies.
Offices that meet these criteria will inevitably gain recognition for their commitment to sustainability, which in turn helps attract businesses and employees who prioritize eco-friendly workplaces. Better yet, they will create a unified standard which companies can attempt to emulate to stay competitive, while lowering costs and benefiting their bottom line all around.
The future of net zero buildings in office design represents a paradigm shift in the way we approach construction and sustainability, and Sensyst is helping to lead the charge. We’re committed to office designs that are optimized, efficient and productive, and this includes the continuous adoption of net-zero concepts and technologies.
If you are ready to craft your own net-zero office, or remodel your existing one for future-proofing purposes, we’d like to hear from you. We’ll examine your current office space to determine how best to move forward on all fronts, from layout to branding, and of course, sustainability and energy efficiency. Contact us today to learn more!