With the current focus on wellness for employees and customers, biophilic design for commercial property is all the rage. But what is it and how can you achieve it in an existing property?
Biophilic design: what does it mean?
Biophilic design refers to the trend of bringing the outdoors indoors. So most homes with indoor courtyards, plants and so on can be deemed ‘biophilic’. More common these days is the idea of bringing the outdoors into the workplace. Most commonly, biophilic design is applied to office space but may be applied to retail space, especially shopping malls.
How do you make your office ‘biophilic’?
Achieving biophilic benefits is more than calling a plant hire company and scattering plants throughout the office or common areas.
When office workers are asked what their top three needs for office space are, they don’t talk about desks or technology. In most surveys, the top three are fresh air, natural light and a ‘green’ space.
To truly make your commercial property biophilic, you need to take into account the following elements:
Light and exterior views
Access to natural light is important for employee mood, wellbeing and morale and, importantly, productivity.
It isn’t always possible to add more natural light to older office buildings but if your building is single storey with a large footprint, consider adding skylights or solar tubes to increase light. If you’re renovating an existing building, it may be worth investigating if light can be funnelled into the building through an internal staircase.
If your building includes outdoor space, consider adding trees or plants and provide seating.
You can get creative when you’re renovating a commercial building; is your roof suitable as a common outdoor space? Could you retrofit a balcony or terrace? Check with a structural engineer and an architect to see how to maximise outdoor space.
Using natural materials like wood and stone help to create the feeling of the outdoors inside. Engineered materials like MDF can produce dangerous gases and contain unsafe materials. Many commercial carpets also emit gases either from the backing or the carpet material.
When you’re renovating, look at areas to which you could add natural materials or where engineered materials might be replaced.
Plants are key to providing a biophilic space, and many indoor plants will thrive in low-light conditions. Plants truly make an indoor space feel more alive and can improve air quality.
Colour can have a huge effect on mood. In retail spaces, for example, colour can increase shoppers’ energy, encourage them to spend more time in a store and spend more as a result.
Colour is often used in common areas that face the general public. It’s worthwhile providing a neutral shell for tenants so they can include colour to suit their requirements and branding.
While it isn’t always possible to open a window in many commercial buildings, it is possible to have fresher air that isn’t as intrusive as conventional air conditioning. Chilled beams offer a more pleasant air temperature, are quieter and cost less to run. Chilled beams generate far fewer complaints from tenants and are almost maintenance-free.
While chilled beams are most cost-effective for a new build, they can be retrofitted to most older buildings. Consider investigating alternative air cooling and freshening options for your existing commercial property.
Why biophilic design could help you raise your rent
As the owner of a commercial property, you want to create an environment that will lead to happier tenants. Business owners or government organisations have an obligation to prioritise employee wellbeing. This aspect is currently in greater focus as so many have been working from home for the last two years. Employers understand that happier employees will stay longer and be more productive, saving employers ongoing high costs of recruiting new staff and training them. Tenants are seeking properties that offer benefits to their employees including natural light, open space, fresh air and green plants.
Can we help with your Mount Gambier commercial property?
Call Herbert Commercial on 08 87 250 500 for a complimentary annual investment portfolio assessment. From this assessment, feedback may warrant the need to seek Herbert Commercial’s advice and expertise with formulating a plan to action restructuring or renegotiating the best lease scenario moving forward. We’re here to help.
As the only dedicated commercial property agency in Mount Gambier, we have a network with and are sought after by national commercial agencies as a trusted extension to their services. Our wealth of commercial knowledge of the Mount Gambier market extends to the broader commercial market, meaning we can ensure you achieve your commercial property goals.