Sustainable Workplaces Research Paper Examples
Identifying Evidence-Based Design Case Studies
Identifying Evidence-Based Design Case Studies
The concept of evidence-based design was drawn from the context of sustainable environment where design can influence peoples’ attitude and behavior (Bodin-Danielsson and Bodin, 2008). The term is popular in the place of healthcare environment because of the intricacies and the science behind creating a place that adheres to the need for patient healing and the staff’s well being. On the other hand, the concept of EBD and the practice of integrating the principles of sustainability are also highly attributed to designing the workplace environment. The discussion focuses on identifying the EBD case studies by citing examples of sustainable workplaces and how EBD influence people’s lives. Furthermore, the succeeding discussion will emphasize the EBD practices by creating a case study of the exampled workplaces. Lastly, evidence-based design can be assumed to be an approach in the field of construction and design to encompass highlighting the impact of the sustainable work environment towards worker productivity.
There are several workplaces that can be considered an EBD model. It could be a hospital, a hotel, or an office. A few examples of workplace environments where EBD has been an integral concept are the offices of Unilever and Google. Both workplaces display innovative vision of a productive, yet fun environment that sustains the need to foster creativity among their workers. The integration of EBD in the two company’s sustainable workplaces allowed the employees and staff to create an environment that is conducive to organizational culture and productivity to flow freely (Totterdill, 2012). Sustainability was established in the two workplaces as observed from the continuous growth of the organization and its employees.
Improving People’s Lives through Sustainable Workplaces
Human ecology is the guiding principle of creating sustainable workplaces with the application of evidence-based design. It was mentioned earlier that EBD has a significant impact towards the well being of the staff and patients in the healthcare settings. On the other hand, sustainability through EBD also has the same impact towards the lives of employees in non-healthcare sector. As fined by Pot et al. (2011), innovations in the workplace can strategically induce changes in the organization’s practice of deployment of human resources. This is because workplace aesthetics, layout and facilities are among the factors considered by deserving applicants when accepting the job offer apart from compensation (Hassell, 2013. The ability of the organization to sustain aesthetically pleasing environment adds more attractiveness to the workplace, which makes employees to eagerly come to work and feel good about their environment.
The way it impacts and consequently changes lives is the amount of motivation that the workplace provides to employees. For instance, a marketing professional working in a sustainable workplace is always at his best mood when in the office. As a result, the employee develops a positive attitude towards his job and being able to have time to enjoy himself by using facilities such as the office-sleeping lounge, the worker would be able to sustain the same attitude all day. According to workers productivity study, employees are able to increase their productive hours by 100 hours per year because of the innovations and the sustainability of the workplace environment apart from the motivation provided by monetary reward and compensation (Edwards and Torcellini, 2002). A simple light fixture for instance has a significant effect towards the employees’ productivity. Too much light is considered distractive while low light exacerbates difficulty of vision, which slows down the employees’ work pace.
Having said about how EBD and workplace sustainability affects productivity, it goes to show the two variables are interrelated. On the context of life changing effect of EBD towards the workers, an increase in productivity translates to better work performance; better output translates into better career path in the organization, higher compensation, which eventually contributes to life-changing improvements. It is apparent that sustainability in EBD creates the building blocks that will subsequently transcend into better opportunities in the organization. Going back to the example of a marketing employee who is always feeling good about working in the company with sustainable EBD, the constant success brought by higher productivity will lead to a better life. This is because that particular employee is likely to be promoted and receive upgraded compensation for his work performance.
The Case of Google
One of the things the really attract young professional to take a shot of employment in Google Headquarters is the workplace itself. The sustainable and evidence-based design of the company’s headquarters encompasses a critical study of how science can improve the place of work. The sustainability aspect of the new building in Googleplex in Mountain View California is 1.1 million square foot of prime property purchased by Google for the construction of its own building rather than occupying an existing structure such as the one in Silicon Valley. Among the sustainable characteristics of the new tech building is the use of light construction materials, which is a combination of glass and steel. The massive change in the conventional approach to construction is the use of adjustable technologies to modulate temperature and the amount of sunlight entering the interiors. One of the challenges facing the architecture company NBBJ of Seattle was commissioned to design the building is to ensure that heat from the sunlight does not interfere with the monitor screens caused by glaring and to keep the heat out.
Figure 1 The crystal palace at the Googleplex showing glass roof to imitate a Greenhouse effect and allow greeneries to thrive within the interiors of the building (fastcodesign.com, 2015)
Figure 2 The outside view of the Google building in Googleplex showing the park-like settings with the glass palace building at the background, notice how the glass roof was shaped into a tent (fastcodesign.com, 2015).
Figure 3 The interior design of the Googleplex Crystal Palace showing the perspectives of an open space and an illusion of being in an open environment within an enclosed structure (Oremus, 2015)
Shared Floor Plan Images by Clive Wilkenson Architects (Young 2012)
Figure 4 Images showing the open-space environment within structure (Young, 2012)
Figure 5 The open-spaced lounges and lobbies at Googleplex serves as junction for generating new ideas (Young, 2012)
Sustainability is apparent on the new Google building’s design. The aspect of EBD based on the picture is the capability of the structure to modulate two important elements, light and temperature. The company is striving to create interesting ideas in creating a workplace, and apparently, the innovations put into the construction of the building encompasses a work environment that fosters creativity and the innovative culture of its employees. With the new environment, Google’s initiative is to allow new ideas to hatch from the staff while communing the elements of nature right within the structure. Fresh air from the Mountain View atmosphere will be pumped into the interiors along with the narrow floor plans that houses the pool room, huddle room, couches, and conventional desks all benefiting from the generous bathe of light coming from the glass roof (Russell, 2013). How the company’s new approach to EBD and sustainability is beyond the conventional standards of building construction. The ultimate goal is to foster the free flow of ideas, collaboration, which will eventually lead to everyone’s career growth and productivity.
Another significant contributor to the growing number of evidence-based designed buildings is the EGM Architecten at the Welgenbos in Netherlands. Among the projects completed by the company is the Research and Education building in VU University, Amsterdam. The structure embodies the characteristics of an EBD sustainable laboratory building that was designed to enable the interaction between human productivity and innovation. The building was designed as a compact cube that features dimensional structures that allow daylight to pass penetrate within the interiors of the building. It was also built to house staggered terraces that can be used by the occupants to accommodate relaxation, study, and work. In addition, the design of the interior structure took careful consideration of the interactions that occur from frequent encounters to large-scale knowledge exchange (egm.nl, N.D.)
Figure 6 The open center of the cube structure allows sunlight to penetrate down to the lower levels (egm.nl, N.D.)
Figure 7 The open space cut in the cube structure allows better ventilation and light to pass through the interiors (egm.nl, N.D.)
Figure 8 The compact cube design of the exterior (egm.nl, N.D.)
Figure 9 Illustration of the cubed design of the building demonstrating its EBD characteristics
Figure 10 The building was designed to house several segments that allows convergence at its lower levels
Figure 11 The main access to the lower levels was designed to accommodate an illusion of an open space within the cubed exterior structure
Figure 12 The atrium was designed to function as converging point for the occupants with open terraces where students and knowledge workers can interact in a welcoming environment
Figure 13 The image of the building exterior against its exterior when split in half
The chosen design of the Research and Education building in VU University is a realization of an objective to benefit the occupants in terms of increasing the interaction between innovation and productivity. The role of natural light penetrating deep into the interiors of the building has a positive effect towards the occupants. The main selling point of the building has to allow the natural light to pass through despite having the conventional cube design. According to EBD studies, designing a space to support the sustainability of knowledge work is an important element, which can be achieved by allowing the natural environment to reflect into the workspace (Muszynski, 2009). In the case of the Research and Education building in VU University in Netherlands, the occupants are considered as knowledge workers and the effect of having the natural light to penetrate into their workspace creates a positive mood and consequently enables the free flow of knowledge exchange among the workers. As such the constant exchange in ideas also enables higher productivity levels.
Several facilities executives beyond the healthcare work environment have not heard about EBD and how it will foster productivity among their workers through a sustainable workplace environment. As described earlier, evidence-based design is about making an impact towards the individuals using the space. In a workplace environment, the aesthetical motivation emerging from the appreciated design of the workspace greatly affect one’s eagerness to go to work regularly, which translates to higher productivity. The encompassing elements of light, interior structure, design, temperature, atmosphere, and even the choice of fixtures provides a positive perspective on the environment where the workers are performing their organizational functions. The case of the Crystal palace in Googleplex and the Research and Education building in VU University are examples of sustainable buildings that closely adhere to the prerequisites of EBD.
Edwards, L., & Torcellini, P. (2002). A literature review of the effects of natural light on building occupants (NRELTP-550-30769). Retrieved from National Renewable Energy Lanoratory website: http://parans.com/swe/lightacademy/pdf/A%20literature%20review%20of%20the%20effects%20of%20Naural%20Light%20on%20Building%20occupants.pdf
Egm.nl. (n.d.). O|2 research & education building VU University A’dam, Amsterdam - EGM architects. Retrieved from http://www.egm.nl/en/project/60/o2-research-education-building-vu-university-adam
Fastcodesign.com. (2105). What The Googleplex's Original Architect Thinks Of Google's New Headquarters. Retrieved from www.fastcodesign.com/3043076/what-the-googleplexs-original-architect-thinks-of-googles-new-headquarters
Hassell. (2013). Evidence Based Design Journal | Designing Attractive Workplaces. Retrieved from http://ebdjournal.com/blog/workplace/post-a
Muszynski, L. (2009, November 10). Studies link green design, occupant productivity facilities management green feature. Retrieved from http://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/Studies-Link-Green-Design-Occupant-Productivty--11283?source=part
Oremus, R. (2015, February 27). Googleplex: Google plans new headquarters in Mountain View’s North Bayshore district. (PHOTOS). Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/02/27/googleplex_google_plans_new_headquarters_in_mountain_view_s_north_bayshore.html
Russell, J. S. (2013, April 24). Google’s New Campus Has Light, Fresh Air, Low Power Use - Bloomberg Business. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-04-24/google-s-new-campus-has-light-fresh-air-low-power-use
Totterdill, P., Exton, R., & Gold, M. (2014, April). Closing the gap between evidence-based and common practice -Workplace innovation and public policy in Europe - LLinE. Retrieved from http://www.lline.fi/en/article/policy/totterdill/closing-the-gap-between-evidence-based-and-common-practice-workplace-innovation-and-public-policy-in-europe
Young, M. (2012, February 1). Googleplex, Mountain View: Designing Interior Spaces at an Urban Scale. Retrieved from http://untappedcities.com/2012/01/02/googleplex-mountainview-designing-interior-spaces-at-an-urban-scale/
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