There are a range of reasons businesses choose to refurbish, whether it’s for cosmetic or functionality reasons. Maintenance and refurbishment is an inevitable part of a building’s life cycle if it is to remain relevant over time.
And although we live in a time where both social and corporate focus is at an all time high for sustainable and eco-friendly practices, investigations show that 80 percent of interior office refurbishment materials are still going to landfill, with the main culprits of waste reported to be ceiling tiles, workstations and flooring.
Different factors contribute to whether a business chooses to implement sustainable practices, however it generally comes down to how educated both the client and the maintenance industry is with environmentally friendly practices.
People assume that implementing environmentally friendly practices when renovating will be costlier than standard methods, but it isn’t always the case, particularly as maintenance can involve more savings than replacing entirely.
In order to establish a more eco-friendly maintenance industry, it comes down to ongoing innovation and adapting traditional methods to consider their impact on the environment. This shift means looking at choosing the best practice, which ultimately begins with the design aspect.
Consider what new materials are needed and how much
Using less of products and using the right products upfront will potentially result in a reduction in the building industry’s environmental impact. It’s during the early design stages that companies need to look at the possibility of using less of the required materials and the overall impact this may have.
By taking this into consideration early on, businesses are preventing future waste, as well as avoiding the cost associated with dumping unwanted items in landfill.
Invest in long-term products
Building managers, architects and others involved in renovating and maintaining spaces should have a long-term approach when selecting products and methods, as certain products and practices can end up being cheaper over time. The initial price of anything should never be the only factor when selecting items, even when there are tight budgets. For example, products such as solar, LED and similar can minimise the output of energy consumption and save money over the long term. Monetary and environmental costs over a lengthier period of time are equally, if not more important overall.
Reuse or recycle the existing materials
The next level of control is to reuse any materials that are in the building that is currently being refurbished. Reusing products is likely to have greater cost benefits since the bulk of the cost has already been purchased. The same goes for maintaining over replacing.
It is possible for things to become new while keeping the old. This goes for ceilings and fixed joinery and workstations in particular which many may throw away, yet with specific products on the market today, they can be salvaged.
If reuse is not possible, there are appropriate steps to be taken to recycle instead of putting items in landfill. Having consideration for the environment is important due to the ongoing accumulation of landfill and our carbon footprint.
The push to use more environmentally sustainable practices is increasing and as an industry it will keep progressing through education and innovation from industry bodies.
Dyan Sisouw is the Director of Enviroscope Maintenance and Procoat Systems.