In recognition of Green Office Week, which runs from 13th to 17th May 2013, local landscape architect, Michael Felton, is encouraging island businesses to transform their offices into plant friendly, green environments.
The week, which takes place in May every year, raises awareness of environmental issues and tries to tackle bad work habits that can impact the environment. Sensible use of energy, transport and waste are amongst the areas that will be highlighted through this national awareness week. The primary aim of Green Office Week is to demonstrate how corporations and businesses can make small changes to benefit the planet.
Michael Felton, said: ‘Green Office Week is a great initiative and will encourage businesses to think about how their actions impact the environment. In addition to the topics identified by the Green Office Week organisers, Avery, I think we should also consider the importance of greenery in the workplace, for both the environment and our own welfare. There are a number of easy and quick ways to include greenery and green spaces in the office, all of which have countless benefits. It is well recognised that there is an important link between greenery and wellbeing, as shown by the prominent role hospital gardens play in the recovery of patients. The same applies to work spaces; green areas improve the ambiance of the office. There are plenty of small changes both individuals and organisations can make to enhance their wellbeing in the workplace.’
In recent years, planting has featured heavily in urban areas in an attempt to improve urban aesthetics and to increase the number of people who can benefit from the positive environmental impact of such planting. Extensive use of greenery has also become popular with large corporates and developers in the UK, such as London’s Westfield Shopping Centre which boasts a vertical green living wall.
‘Plants add colour and shape to otherwise commonplace areas. Green walling can really make a statement, but requires a fair amount of commitment in terms of installation. Offices with courtyards and roof space can easily transform these areas into green spaces – perfect for entertaining clients and for staff to use,’ he continued.
Mr Felton suggests that growing herbs is one of the easiestgreen activities to undertake in an office environment. All that’s required is a south facing window, or areas that receive lots of natural light, to grow herbs such as parsley, chives or mint with very little effort.
‘Herbal teas have come into fashion in a big way and not many people realise just how easy they are to grow and make. Having a small office herb garden on a windowsill can also promote a sense of community within your business.
‘Finally, aside from everything else, surrounding your office with greenery can have a profound impact on the environment – it’s not just decorative! Soon enough, green spaces and areas in office buildings will become the fabric of the building,’ said Mr Felton.
Tips for green offices:
• Offices with little outdoor space can utilise any south facing windowsills, or places that receive lots of sunlight to grow herbs, spices, and flowers.
• Window boxes can liven up the outside of buildings. They provide a low maintenance feature that can be themed with the seasons, or kept the same all year round.
• A jam jar can be made into a small bottle garden for desks or areas without a lot of space; think Victorian bottle gardens on a small scale.
• Green office initiatives can inspire team building – companies can rent allotments and hold gardening clubs at the weekend for staff, growing competitions and cookery competitions with office-grown produce.
• If space is an issue, buying some locally grown flowers from the market to display in a communal area will energise the space.
• London has led the way in the UK with their roof gardens. Offices with a safe, flat roof can easily house a rooftop garden. Try placing a variety of plants and seating areas on the roof, or alternatively on a balcony.
• Green walling can turn outside office walls into a feature, and are great for the environment. They require a fair amount of planning and must be installed by experts, but with a proper irrigation system, can be very easy to upkeep.
Michael Felton was appointed chairman of the landscape committee for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust from 1985-1990 and has also been an adviser and committee member of the Jersey Association of the Men of the Trees, (now ‘Jersey Trees for Life’) for 30 years and was chairman between 1991 and 1994. In 1978 Mr Felton established Michael Felton Ltd, a practice that has evolved from single practitioner into a team of experienced and qualified, award winning landscape architects.