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The Alignment of Smart Working, the Triple Bottom Line and LEED Principles


LEED Principles-body_36

Smart Working is a combination of business transformation and flexible working, enabled by changes to technologies, to working environments and to the working culture of organisations. It is an emerging ‘inter-disciplinary discipline’ that involves the people, property and technology functions working together to deliver change.

Properly implemented, Smart Working can deliver a range of measurable benefits across the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ – business benefits, benefits to employees, and wider environmental (LEED) and social benefits. The benefits include improved productivity, working more closely with customers, reduced costs, improved choice and better work-life balance for employees, as well as reduced travel and use of resources. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is a rating system to quantitatively assess and certify the environmental sustainability of a construction project.

The Triple Bottom Line has been popularised by LEED and Smart Working principles, but it is not a new philosophy.  The phrase was coined in 1994 by John Elkington  The philosophy of the Triple Bottom Line, or The Three Pillars of People, Planet & Profit is intended to increase the focus on the sustainability of business practices.  Triple Bottom Line thinking ties the social and environmental impact of an organisation’s activities to its economic performance.  Triple bottom line reporting, combined with Smart Working can be an important tool to support sustainability and LEED goals.

Defining TBL is easy, and its benefits are not in dispute. The challenge is measuring it. The mechanics involve quantifying an entity’s allowable impact or share of responsibility for environmental and social issues and using this context-based metric as a yardstick to evaluate outcomes.

Context-based metrics rest on empirical limits, such as local water supplies, optimal levels of atmospheric carbon or social/economic factors like local cost of living.

The company’s allowable impact (e.g., share of available water, contribution to global emissions) and responsibility (e.g., total compensation) within this context are determined using factors such as staff size, facility size or production.

To evaluate their progress, users divide actual performance data by allowable impact or share of responsibility.

There’s still significant variation in how companies interpret and use the resulting data to guide their activities, however we have summarised the big-picture benefits of Smart Working as follows:

  • Reduce costs – save money by saving space
  • Improve business performance
  • Focus on outcomes rather than processes
  • Create office environments that facilitate collaboration and innovation
  • Reduce the environmental footprint of our office activities
  • Cultural change to enable greater organisational agility
  • Work takes place at the most effective locations and at the most effective times
  • Space is allocated to activities rather than individuals or seniority
  • Technology is used appropriately and effectively
  • Performance is measured on results rather than presence

What this means for workplace strategists, interior designers and fit out contractors is:

  • Flexible meeting spaces – small meeting rooms, breakout spaces and café areas
  • Space for quiet and concentrated working
  • Space for confidential work and phone calls
  • Touch-down spaces for people working on the move
  • Flexible multi-purpose areas
  • Hot desking areas
  • Collaborative spaces

At mac-interiors we share a vision of operations with our clients that our activities should be economically successful, environmentally respectful and ecologically responsible.  It’s interesting how different Global Companies have embraced the principles of Smart Working (and thereby the Triple Bottom Line), despite the fact that they use different words to describe it.

Here are some examples of mac-interiors Smart Working reference projects:

Pfizer Newbridge: ‘Agile Working’/’Asset Optimisation’

18k sq ft, €400k, mac-interiors D&B with MCA

Intel: ‘The Way We Work’

60k sq ft, €5.5m,

Fidelity: ‘Go Work’  Current Project

Framework agreement:  Ethos, RKD, CBRE

Jacobs: ‘Space Optimisation’

32k sq ft, €2.6m

Abbvie Zwolle: ‘Workplace Strategy’

26k sq ft, €2.1m,

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