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As one of Australia's national environmental organisations, ACF decided to use itself as a 'test case', and prove that environmentally sustainable fittings did exist and could easily be incorporated into offices. By using itself as a role model, ACF can demonstrate in simple and practical ways how other offices can go green.
And the big benefits? A healthy, attractive workplace for ACF staff and volunteers and an office with minimal impact on the environment.
Once ACF had made the decision to create a green office, the challenge was to find environmentally sustainable fittings - not easy when you consider that most office fittings are designed with no thought to their long-term impact on the environment.
Yet it was going to be necessary if ACF was to achieve its goals of setting the green challenge for other offices around Australia, while at the same time providing staff and volunteers a healthy workplace and minimising the office impact upon the environment.
ACF worked with firms Kodo International, Assai and H2O to prepare and implement a unique brief, applying environmental objectives for design, fitout and furnishing.
Some of the challenges included doing away with solid ceiling to floor partitions, yet providing some privacy; designating meeting and work areas, yet keeping open plan; and allowing maximum flow of light and air yet ensuring people enjoyed a comfortable workspace.
ACF's green office works to the same environmental objectives set out for the 60L green building. These are to maximise the efficiency of energy and natural lighting, to minimise use of mechanical heating/cooling and artificial lighting systems, and to minimise waste and to provide a healthy efficient work environment.
The result was astounding - a design that was versatile and invigorating. The office provides plenty of light, air, and room to move, work, discuss, and celebrate. The building changes as the sunlight moves across the space and responds directly to weather outside. It is a living, breathing, dynamic space, of light, colour and fresh air.
The fit out
ACF and H2o were assisted by Sustainable Solutions in assessing the most environmentally responsible materials and furniture. Potential suppliers were given a questionnaire and assessed on levels of recycled and natural materials, embodied energy and toxicity of materials. No material escaped judgement - paints, wallboard, floor coverings, tables, chairs, electrical cables, timber sources, plastics, and more.
ACF's green office is a tangible role model for future offices in Australia. It has taken plenty of searching but all the furniture and materials we used are commercially available and are listed here, making it much easier for others to build green.
Many of the suppliers were very generous in donating their products, and services to ACF.