Practical Actions for Sustainable Office Spaces. Our Event Round-up.

Daniel Walsh

10 Oct 2023

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Practical Actions for Sustainable Office Spaces.

Find out how your business can adapt to meet sustainability goals.

On Thursday 21 September, Hunts hosted special guests and experts from across the UK Commercial Interiors, Property and Construction industries to our ‘Practical Actions for Sustainable Office Spaces’ event.

Held in our newly refurbished showrooms in High Wycombe, the event saw a panel of experts discuss the impact ESG and NetZero is having on Real Estate and Workplace decisions businesses have to make. Panellists included;

  • Marylis Ramos - Director at Savills Earth Advisory

  • Kevin Shepherd - Project Director at CBRE Global Workspace Solutions

  • Donna Uden - Head of Workplace Services and Projects at ITV

  • Steve Malkin - CEO and Founder at Planet Mark

  • Caroline Pontifex - Director of Workplace Experience at KKS Savills

  • Gareth Banks - Head of Sustainability at Orangebox

Experts in their field, this was the perfect panel to guide our guests through a range of subjects, including a thought-provoking and lively Q&A discussion.

The event kicked off with a conversation about the way businesses are adapting to meet ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) goals. The panel acknowledged that more action is being taken by organisations, especially since the pandemic. Organisations are setting clear targets and as Caroline Pontifex from KKS Savills explains;

“There is a considerable amount of optimism, as every business that I have engaged with looks at how they can achieve their own ESG goals and push sustainable office refurbishments and fit-outs. Larger organisations specifically are planning their routes to their net zero pathways and are onboard.”

Setting ESG goals ultimately encourages businesses and individuals to think more broadly and consider how their choices can have an impact on a global scale.

There is however a clear challenge and tension regarding ESG when it comes to smaller businesses that are having to find a balance between managing cash flow and putting the right ESG goals in place. This led into a conversation regarding circular economy, specifically reusing and recycling existing furniture for workplaces. As Donna Uden from ITV stated;

“Naturally when you are moving into a new office, you’d think that you’d need new furniture too. However, it’s stopping and thinking, what can be reused rather than buying new or where else can we go to buy second hand furniture?”

It became apparent at the event that there is a large network of companies selling and buying second hand furniture, creating opportunities for sustainable activity for both end users and manufacturers. For end users the key thing is to be mindful of the product life cycle of their furniture. Are there opportunities to repurpose something? Is there another location for it, could it be repurposed and sold to one of your contacts?

For manufacturers, the key thing is understanding how a product will be used when their customers have finished with them. Considering the circular economy and the recycling or reuse of materials in the R&D stage of a product is a great way to create more sustainable offerings and also educating your customers to ensure they are acting sustainably with their products. As Gareth Banks from Orangebox explained;

“Every manufacturer of every item needs to understand the carbon intensity of the materials that they are using and work on reducing it everytime”.

Ensuring longevity is definitely a challenge and as our panel acknowledged, we’re still in the early days of remanufacturing furniture. However, there is undoubtedly enthusiasm for this and data is being collected to refine the processes required. Tools such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol are a great way to measure carbon impacts and identify what needs to be done. As Steve Malkin from Planet Mark stated;

“The more we measure, the more informed we can be about making choices about the furniture we want to use in our organisations”.

At Hunts we are so passionate about events like this because it gives people a chance to collaborate and have open and honest discussions which leads to ideas and creativity. Throughout “Practical Actions for Sustainable Office Spaces’ our panel had valuable and practical advice for attendees looking to make their businesses more sustainable.

For Kevin Shepherd from CBRE Global Workspace Solutions discussed the importance of patience;

“Be wary of programmes and how long things may take. Your project may take longer if it’s going to be a truly net zero carbon project and if you are going to get the outcome you want you may need to wait longer for products”.

Embedding this into your timeframes at the planning stage of a project is key. It’s also vital that the importance of sustainability is remembered beyond this. If there is a tension with budget at later stages of a project, it tends to be the sustainable and environmentally friendly options that get pared back the most. Being firm with budgets and ESG goals throughout is key.

For office refurbishments and fit outs, it’s important to communicate the reasons why you are doing this with the entirety of your team. If you have ESG goals you want to meet, making sure there is a company wide understanding of what these are and why they are important is essential. When undertaking sustainability projects with ITV, Donna Uden found that transparency was vital;

Communication is key, and we took all the staff on the journey - they knew why we were using sustainable products and furniture and it was important to get them onboard”.

Over the course of the event it became clear that we are going in the right direction with ESG but there is still a lot to be done. In particular we need to ensure that we support smaller businesses within the industry to meet their own ESG goals.

The entire team at Hunts is thrilled with the feedback for ‘Practical Actions for Sustainable Office Spaces’. Both our expert panel and attendees benefited from such an open conversation with like-minded individuals.

Over the course of the two hour discussion panel, many different elements of ESG and NetZero were discussed. Hunts captured the event on video and over the course of the next few months we will be sharing further insights on social media and our blog.

If you are looking at fitting out or refurbishing your own office with a sustainable approach in mind, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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