Most of us can agree traditional office spaces were not designed with human beings or the planet in mind. They were about maximizing space and minimizing budget. This often meant unsightly cubicle farms with desks nowhere near windows–those were reserved for the coveted executive offices–stuffy air with little circulation, and artificial lighting. If employees wanted better, they had to strive for scarce opportunities that put them in the C-Suite (when those jobs were often recruited for outside the company), bring their own small plants to liven up their cube, and mainly deal with it.
It’s not a sustainable way to work, and this sardine-packing approach exploded into the open office craze, which in many cases, kept the sardines and threw out the box. Privacy and distractions got worse. People got sicker. Absenteeism skyrocketed. Job satisfaction plummeted.
The open office “solution” also ignored a major downfall of traditional office buildings: their environmental impact.
According to the US Green Building Council, office buildings are responsible for 41% of the world’s average energy use, by far the biggest consumer. Electricity consumption is the worst marker, with office buildings in the US accountable for a whopping 73% of the country’s usage.
Some more USGBC stats:
American building construction contributes a huge 38% of all CO2 emissions
13.6% of all potable water, roughly 15 trillion gallons per year, runs through America’s office buildings.
61% of the 170 million tons of construction and demolition debris generated in America is produced by commercial buildings.
We as a nation, as a species, need sustainably built offices, and we need them now.