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Recyclable Office Design

Many offices have recycling programs, but some workplaces are taking it to the next level and making their offices out of recyclables.

The standard, modern office setting is no stranger to waste. A campaign to reduce office waste in Britain from 2008 announced that bad waste practices costs industry about £15 billion per year nationally, and in 2004, the EPA estimated that buildings account for 60 percent of total non-industrial waste from construction and demotion. So what can be done? One solution that offices are turning to is designing spaces with recycled materials. It cuts out the cost of new building materials and the waste of having to manufacture all new office supplies. Everything from flooring to furniture to office supplies can be made from sustainable, recycled materials. Below are some designs, tips and products for the green, recycled office.

Inventive office building materials

The best way to get the most out of sustainable office efforts is to start from the ground up. Literally. Inhabitat reported on a Japan office designed by Hiroki Tominaga Atelier, made out of shipping pallets. The office isn’t exactly cheap to rent, so the video production company that used it wanted an inexpensive way to redesign the office. Pallets came to the rescue with a price point of $2,300. Then there’s the Twitter offices in California that used reclaimed barn wood to make their logo sign and the Foundation Nicolas Hulot for Nature and Humankind in France has cafeteria walls made out of recycled bricks. When remodeling, almost anything can be found recycled if you get creative enough. When looking for building materials, it’s important to look for FSC Recycled Material, which shows that it’s a certified, reclaimed material. You can find out more about the certification here. There’s also the Recycled Content Certification from SCS Global Services. Another option is to buy used materials at places like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It might take a little searching, but often these places will have the like-new gem sitting around inconspicuously.

Office furniture made from recyclables

There are plenty of ways to find office furniture made out of recyclables as well. Many companies make office furniture out of recycled content. For instance, according to National Office Furniture, “National makes use of two kinds of recycled materials in our products: Post-consumer and pre-consumer. Post-consumer material is waste that has become material for another product; it has already served a useful purpose. An example of post-consumer material is aluminum cans that are made into new cans. Pre-consumer material is waste that is left over when producing something else. An example of pre-consumer material is fabric scraps from cutting material for a chair. The scraps are then used to make trunk liners for cars.”

Calling the professionals

When looking to design a whole green office, you may want to call in some professional designers. You’ll want to look for builders who have LEED certification, which means the builder will be knowledgeable in creating a design with the smallest ecological footprint. In addition to sourcing sustainable building materials, LEED certified builders will be able to create buildings with lower energy consumption, and they will be able to make sure the office is actually built and constructed in a less wasteful manner. Plus, LEED builders gain points for using materials that are 10 to 20 percent by cost recycled content, which will help the builder attain a higher level of LEED certification.

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