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By Doug Pilgrim
From the February 2024 Issue

 

In 2024, the intersection of remanufacturing and WELL principles have emerged as a sustainable approach to office design, revolutionizing the way workplaces are structured and operated. Remanufacturing, a process of restoring used products to their original specifications, aligns seamlessly with the WELL Building Standard, which emphasizes creating healthy environments that support human well-being. This synergy between remanufacturing and WELL presents a holistic approach to office design that prioritizes sustainability, health, and efficiency.

Sustainable Office Design
(Photo: adobestock/ Haru Works)

What Is Remanufacturing?

At its core, remanufacturing involves disassembling, cleaning, repairing, and upgrading existing products to extend their lifespan. This approach significantly reduces waste by diverting materials from landfills and minimizing the need for new resource extraction. By refurbishing furniture, fixtures, and equipment, companies can achieve substantial cost savings while reducing their environmental footprint. Furthermore, remanufactured items often retain their quality and functionality, offering comparable performance to new products at a fraction of the environmental impact.

Remanufactured furniture can be customized to meet ergonomic standards, providing employees with comfortable and supportive seating options that reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, remanufactured products can be treated with low-VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes, contributing to better indoor air quality, and reducing potential health hazards.

Keeping Wellness At The Forefront

The WELL Building Standard prioritizes biophilic design elements that connect occupants with nature, promoting stress reduction and mental well-being. Remanufactured furniture can incorporate sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood or recycled plastics, adding natural textures and visual appeal to office environments. By preserving existing resources, remanufacturing helps conserve natural habitats and ecosystems, further supporting biophilic design principles.

Another key aspect of the WELL Building Standard is optimizing lighting conditions to enhance productivity and circadian rhythms. Remanufactured lighting fixtures can be retrofitted with energy-efficient LEDs and advanced controls that adjust brightness and color temperature throughout the day. By providing occupants with dynamic lighting environments, remanufactured fixtures can support their physiological needs and improve overall comfort and performance.

In addition to physical health benefits, remanufacturing aligns with the WELL Building Standard’s focus on promoting mental well-being and reducing workplace stress. By creating aesthetically pleasing and functional workspaces, remanufactured furniture contributes to a positive and supportive office culture. Customizable designs allow employees to personalize their workstations, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment. Moreover, the sustainable ethos of remanufacturing can inspire a sense of pride and purpose among occupants, fostering a deeper connection to their workplace and its environmental values.

Sustainable Office Design
By creating aesthetically pleasing and functional workspaces, remanufactured furniture contributes to a positive and supportive office culture. (Photo: adobestock/ Andsx)

A Step Toward Net Zero Goals

From a broader perspective, integrating remanufactured furniture into office design helps companies with their Scope emissions. Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions are concepts that originated from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), which is a widely used accounting tool for quantifying and managing greenhouse gas emissions.

The GHG Protocol was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to provide a standardized framework for organizations to measure and report their emissions.

Remanufactured furniture also helps to mitigate Scope 3 emissions by reducing raw material extraction; minimizing transportation emissions through local refurbishment; extending product lifespan to decrease manufacturing needs; diverting furniture from landfills to reduce methane emissions; and fostering sustainable practices throughout the supply chain.

By repurposing existing materials, remanufacturing reduces the environmental impact associated with traditional furniture production and disposal. This approach aligns with circular economy principles, emphasizing resource efficiency and waste reduction. Ultimately, adopting remanufactured furniture contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to furnishing spaces, positively impacting Scope 3 emissions, and promoting long-term sustainability, represents a shift towards a circular economy model, where resources are conserved and reused in a closed-loop system.

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By extending the lifespan of products and minimizing waste generation, remanufacturing contributes to a more sustainable and resilient built environment. Furthermore, the combination of remanufacturing and WELL principles create synergies that amplify the positive impacts on both environmental and human health.

Overall, remanufacturing offers a sustainable approach to office design that aligns seamlessly with the principles of the WELL Building Standard. By refurbishing existing furniture and fixtures, companies can reduce waste, conserve resources, and create healthier, more productive work environments.

As organizations increasingly prioritize sustainability and employee well-being, the integration of remanufacturing and WELL principles are poised to shape the future of office design in 2024 and beyond.

Douglas Pilgrim, Davies OfficeDouglas Pilgrim, LEED-AP, WELL-AP, National Business Development with Davies Office, has extensive environmental expertise and three decades of experience in office furniture sales. Doug serves as a faculty member for the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA), focusing on the new ANSI/BIFMA e3 level sustainability standard.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

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