Cutting my teeth on construction sites as a green horn QS back in the 70’s was an introduction to the frozen feet, sweating head, un-insulated site cabins, with their austere, bleak and unwelcoming work environment.
Fast forward and today, yes we have insulated cabins with PIR sensors, and occasionally you come across plants in the site cabin, windows providing decent daylight or sparks of innovation, like the free fresh fruit for site personal provided daily, but generally the internal working environment hasn’t changed much since the 70;s. Even co-location spaces on large projects are often tucked away in the bowels of a building with no daylight. We tend to think of these offices as temporary, but temporary can be anything up to a few years, and many site personnel spend careers in temporary, accommodation
In a word, grey, not green.
Encouraging then to read Australia’s first green construction site, a partnership with 202020 Vision, a programme seeking to increase urban green space, and bringing the greening concept into the site office.
“Incorporating green space into our site offices is part of our broader plan to create high performance workspaces. International research shows developing green space within office environments not only significantly boosts the health and wellbeing of staff, but also increases productivity,” says Lauren Haas, Brookfield’s Australian sustainability manager, and 202020 Vision advocate.
“Through introducing a Plant Plan, we envisage seeing the same or better improvements in our own staff that is integral to delivering high performance buildings for our clients as well as being an employer of choice.”
The 202020Vision programme is also conducting pre and post occupancy tests on the site team to see if their ‘green environment’ improves health and wellbeing.
We know from (eg the latest World Green Building Council’s Business Case for Green Building report) that biophilia, greenery, views to nature through windows, can improve worker well-being by reducing stress levels, less frustration, increased patience and improved overall satisfaction. The Living Building Challenge, Health Imperative, founded on biophilia principles requires daylight to all working spaces … And all this should apply to construction offices not just the buildings we design and construct.
Hopefully as contractors develop in line with Sustainability, CSR and HR best practice we will see more attention to biophilic thinking, creating green healthy inspiring places to work, enabling construction of green buildings. And, coupled with the rise in interest of mindfulness thinking for site staff, are we heading into a new era of contracting?
Healthy building concepts should apply to construction site offices as well as buildings we construct.