The recent Carter Jonas refurbishment of an office in Cambridge Science Park brings to attention what the environmental future of offices could look like.

Many offices in the UK were built post-war, in the 20th century, and were state of the art at the time but the focus and design needs were very different. Offices were largely made up of small cubicles and everyone having a desk in their respective room, with barriers between colleagues.

Fast forward to 2021, demand has changed, and the old office spaces are becoming worn out and dated by the day, with refurbishments continuously happening, usually opening out the space to create an open-plan office and integrating breakout areas and more creative spaces for people to use, encouraging interaction between colleagues.

But what is often overlooked is the fabric of the building itself, many of them very energy inefficient, reliant on fossil fuels. For example, just trying to perform simple functions like keeping the building at a comfortable temperature becomes a difficult task with heat is constantly being drawn out of the building and escaping.

Eco architecture is now becoming increasingly common. The focus at present is the environment, with large firms being put under increased pressure to reduce their carbon footprints, usually done by investing in tree planting schemes and reducing their amount of printing. Perhaps new office need to kickstart a new trend, whereby firms focus on the technologies can reduce their carbon emissions. 

The technologies being produced now to help reduce emissions are better than ever and are equally at the heart of what a lot of companies are developing, such as much more efficient heating and cooling systems. Ventilation is perhaps more important than ever due to the pandemic, and so incorporating fresh air circulation will be pivotal in the refurbishment and even plants in the communal areas of offices. 

One thing is for sure, office design is changing rapidly and maybe these ‘eco’ offices in Cambridge Science Park are a glimpse into the future.   

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