ABW’s connection to Green Buildings

How connected are we, really, in the world? One would say, in this day and age technology connects us all. But if you ask yourself “How connected am I directly to a certain person on this planet?” Then the answer becomes a lot more interesting with the concept of six degrees of separation. In theory we all live six or fewer connections away from each other. The world has become so much smaller that in essence we are much more closely connected than we thought. And in becoming more connected we’re also more responsible, for more of it.

Which is why I’d like to share my thoughts on ABW’s connection to Green Buildings. As the same argument can be made between ABW and Green Building Certifications (GBCs). The connection might not be immediately apparent, but there are some important synergies and closely linked connections between the two.

Connection 1:  Responsibility

Today, many GBCs exist e.g. The US based LEED, Green Star and NABERS in Australia, the UK based BREEAM and many more. These certification systems focus on measuring the environmental performance of buildings, and helping to create engineering solutions that are environmentally responsible in the long-term.

ABW focuses on organisational performance, and how the culture of an organisation, along with technology and architecture can work together to create a more balanced and sustainable work environment for the long-term.

Connection 2:  Sustainability

Both ABW and GBCs focus on sustainability, albeit one slightly different than the other. Where GBCs are more focused on helping to use resources such as water, waste and greenhouse gas emissions more efficiently. ABW is focused on creating a more efficient work environment and space, where employees can be more productive, more creative and more innovative. Creating a culture that can thrive and adapt in an ever-changing world.

Although, even if the driving force behind an ABW project is changing the culture, the by-product of creating a new environment as part of this, can be hugely beneficial to the environment and meeting sustainability targets. For example:

Maquarie Bank One Shelley Street, saw overall energy consumption reduce by 50%, and compared to an average Sydney office building cut greenhouse emissions by almost 50%!

Commonwealth Bank, one of the largest ABW projects globally, projected a save of approximately 35,208kl water per annum. Equal to about 14 olympic swimming pools!

Connection 3:  Wellbeing

So having considered the environment, I’d now like to consider a more personal connection between the two, which is wellbeing. It may not be all that obvious initially but the standards for both GBC and ABW have at least some components that are focused on the health and comfort of the occupants. For example, Australia’s Green Star includes a category called ‘Indoor environment quality’ (IEQ). LEED v4 includes a category with the same name, and according to the standard the aim is purely to promote the wellbeing of the occupants. Another standard, and probably the one most aligned with ABW is WELL. This standard, which is administered by the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) focuses solely on the health of the occupants. Even if the standard refers to mainly engineering techniques the emphasis is on how the design and adaptability of spaces needs to suit the people using them, which coincides very closely to ABW.

‘Since we spend 90% of our time indoors, the buildings where we live, work, learn and relax have a profound effect on our well-being: how we feel, what we eat and even how we sleep at night.’ International Well Building Institute 

“There’s a lot of energy and buzz in the building, and it feels like a completely different company.” Susanne Fiedler, MD Australia NZ, MSD post-ABW move

In summary

These are just a couple of examples of how ABW and GBCs share values and are connected. ABW could in fact present an opportunity for organisations considering their green status, and who are interested in gaining certification. Not only will some accreditation be fulfilled automatically, but essentially the costs associated with the implementation will go down as floor sizes may decrease. Additionally organisations who understand ABW will be more receptive to GBCs, as ABW educates them on the importance of creating an office environment that as applicable today as it would be in ten years.

Ultimately however, GBCs and ABW can and should work closely together. To help promote a sustainable business environment that benefits not only organisations and employees in the long-term, but also the shared environment that we all use and that will be used for generations to come. You never know our six degrees of separation may get even more connected!

ABW Sustainability

Other articles of interest:

An award winning C2C case study in the Netherlands: