Green Office Space: Coming To An NYC Office Near You
It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in either Botany or Psychology to understand that plants and other elements of nature are essential to our very survival. Plants are, of course, not only an essential source of the very oxygen we breathe but also provide a cornucopia of the food that we eat. Even more important, plants and other foliage can actually have a calming effect on our psyche. This is why plants are just as regular a feature of many offices and cubicles as a stapler or tape dispenser.
One of the latest trends in NYC office space is to incorporate green spaces into building design. This ranges anywhere from open areas accented by planters to entire atriums filled with greenery and sometimes even water features. But creating a great green space is not just about finding ways to add plants and other foliage into the design. Creating green space also involves a total redesign in the way we think about how offices are actually used. Going green is not just about incorporating elements of nature into our work environments, it’s also about lessening the overall environmental impact of both the building and the business itself and even reconnecting workers to a more natural rhythm and pace in their workday.
Here are 5 ways that NYC office spaces and other businesses are “going green“.
A lot of attention has been garnered recently on the plight of bumblebees. Bees are a vital and necessary part of the food chain and without them, we may well actually starve to death. While New York City may not be the most hospitable place for a rain forest, it has recently become hugely hospitable to bees. COOKFOX, an architectural firm with a strong green mission, actually incorporated beehives into the design of their Sixth Avenue offices and are encouraging many of their clients to do the same.
While land may be at a premium in NYC, rooftop space abounds. Rooftops are actually the perfect place to create a tropical paradise in an urban jungle. Many businesses have taken advantage of this prime piece of previously unused real estate and some have even turned this area into a business in and of itself. Annie Novak started a rooftop garden in 2008 and now helps run a 6,000-square-foot organic Eagle Street Rooftop Garden Farm, which provides fresh local fruits and vegetables to a number of local Brooklyn restaurants. Whether you create a community garden for employees or simply a luscious paradise for them to spend some quiet time in, the possibilities for greening up your roof area are almost limitless.
The Greenhouse Office
Glass enclosed buildings are nothing new to New York City. Unlike the stark design aesthetic of the past; however, the current trend is to dress up glass buildings with lush greenery and foliage, turning stark architecture into something far more natural and organic. In addition to lending a more natural and organic feel to the stark design of stainless steel and glass box office buildings, the introduction of indoor plants has a number of added benefits to city workers in particular. Two specific benefits of a green office space are:
Air pollution is a problem in almost any major metropolis, but it affects NYC even more than most, thanks to such a dense population in such a small land area. According to NASA, there are approximately 50 different types of indoor plants that give off a vapor which acts like a magnet to draw impurities out of the air. The plant actually draws these impurities down to its root system where it converts them into food.
In urban areas, noise is refracted from hard surfaces, such as buildings and pavement, which actually serves to magnify the sound. Plants actually absorb sound waves, but even more importantly they absorb sounds best in the high frequencies that people find most annoying.
While the air in New York City may not always be the freshest, it still beats canned, air-conditioned air. When the Durst Corporation took over 4 Times Square (formerly known as the Condé Nast Building) the redesign included the incorporation of 11 terraces ranging in size from 330 to 5,750 square feet. Those terraces (not mention a number of other green features incorporated into its redesign) may go a long way toward explaining why it was fully leased and occupied almost immediately upon completion.
A 2009 Ohio State University Study on mindfulness-based stress reduction found that incorporating meditation in the workplace can lower a company’s health-care costs by reducing chronic stress.
Creating a quiet space where employees can meditate, do yoga or just sit in silence for a time can improve employee morale, mental focus and a sense of well-being. This can also lead to a reduction in the number of sick days employees take while simultaneously increasing productivity.
Amidst the frantic hustle and bustle of New York City, silence can be even more of a luxury than having your own car and driver.
Hand-in-hand with the need for quiet and solitude is the need to let off some steam in the middle of the day. When Shutterstock was planning the design of their NYC startup office space in the iconic Empire State Building, they spent a considerable amount of time analyzing data about how their employees actually used their workspace. One thing they determined was that 61 percent of meetings had four or fewer people.
This meant less need for large conference rooms and more need for smaller “breakout” rooms. They allowed employees to vote on everything about the new space, which led to the inclusion of a yoga/meditation room, a number of game rooms, massage rooms, a mother’s room, a research lounge, extensive gallery space, and even a steampunk-themed secret library in the design of their new green office space.
Whether you already have an established office space in NYC or whether you are an NYC startup looking for your first office space, the possibilities for finding a green office space are almost limitless and the incentives for doing so almost more so.
Not only is a green office space a more natural and organic atmosphere for employees, but plants actually have a number of beneficial effects for city dwellers in particular. Aside from just adding plants and other foliage to office spaces, “going green“ is about getting back to a more “natural“ way of living and working – even in a bustling metropolis.