COVID-19 has changed a lot of things this past year. We observe social distancing of one and a half metres and the hospitality industry is closed. But COVID-19 is also having a positive impact on the environment, because there is less commuter and other traffic. I – Sander van den Berg – am also working from home three out of four working days on average. High time to subject my home office to a sustainability check.
How sustainable is my home office?
Now that I’m home so much, I’ve started to look at my house differently, as it has also become part of my office now to some extent. A while ago, I asked myself how sustainable my home office really is. High time to test this with the most common sustainability benchmark: BREEAM. Of course, there are also benchmarks specifically for houses (for example, the DGBC Woonmerk or soon even a real BREEAM for houses), but I want to test my workstation for an office function.
Getting to work with BREEAM
BREEAM is a sustainability instrument which can be used to assess and certify buildings for sustainability. One to five stars can be obtained by completing 51 questions (“credits”) in the BREEAM-NL In-Use version 2016 for the Asset component.
After completing all the questions, my workstation turns out to get more than three stars, with a score of almost 66%, or “Very Good”. But improvement is always possible, so further analysis is needed.
On average, existing offices in the Netherlands are certified with two or three stars, so my home office doesn’t score badly with more than three stars!”
Verduurzamingskansen voor thuis
The Asset section consists of eight categories: Health, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Waste, Ecologie & polution. And my home office appears to score particularly poorly for the Water and Materials categories. However, these are credits created for larger offices, involving things such as toilets, leak detection, condition measurements and 24/7 camera surveillance. So where is there still room for improvement? Below are the top ten credits/measures to make my home office more sustainable:
- Improve EPC – (score 4,27%)
- Green roof – (score 3,17%)
- Heatpomp – (score 2,55%)
- Older building – (score 2,36%)
- Lighting measurement – (score 1,84%)
- Work/live closer to the station – (score 1,57%)
- Increase accessibility for the disabled – (score 1,38%)
- Place a grease trap – (score 1,27%)
- Rainwater storage system – (score 1,27%)
- Less parkingspace – sScore: 1,05%)
Introducing specific measures
Needless to say, I’m not going to implement all the measures. I don’t see a green (sloping) roof being introduced any time soon, my parking space at home remains intact and a grease trap seems a bit excessive for a house. But I see possibilities. Last year we fitted the house out with solar panels, which has given us a better EPC. If we eventually install a heat pump and continue to live in this house for a bit longer, measures 1, 3 and 4 will be feasible. This will allow my workstation to “earn” an additional star to level “Excellent”.
I think I’ll continue to work in my splendid sustainable home office for a while (not that there’s much choice). I already enjoyed doing that but, after this brief assessment, with an even bigger smile on my face.
– Sander van den Berg, Product Developer at CFP
Top five credits earned
But where does that good score for my home office come from? I’m listing the top five credits earned:
- Current EPC (ENE01)
With a score of 17.29%.
- Waste separation (WST01)
With a score of 5.00%.
- Greenery in the garden (LE01)
With a score of 3.17%.
- Birdhouses (LE02)
With a score of 3.17%.
- Shops in the neighbourhood (TRA02)
With a score of 3.14%.
It is nice to see that our own efforts have contributed to a good score. Think for example of waste separation and greenery in the garden. But also the EPC and the location of the house, which we took into account when we bought it. So in the end, you do have a great deal of influence on the sustainability of your home office.
Written by Sander van den Berg, Product Developer at CFP