Corporate Sustainability 360. Research

Determination of the level of compliance of offices with sustainable development criteria was carried out by assessing the contribution of companies to activities aimed at:

  • reducing environmental impact;
  • ensuring the health, productivity and comfort of employees;
  • optimization of costs and economics of operation.


The study involved 33 offices of 29 companies. Information was collected through a questionnaire. The questionnaires were filled out by 1,187 respondents from 17 Russian cities, from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Syktyvkar and Novosibirsk. As part of the “Sustainable Development in Offices 360” study, the following leaders of the “Green Offices of Russia 2017” rating were identified: Adidas, The Boston Consulting Group, L’Oréal, EY, Aeroclub.


It was important for the researchers to identify the main reasons why companies sought to make their office more sustainable. The survey showed that policies and procedures developed at the management level companies and whose implementation is controlled at the corporate level, have a much greater chance of implementation and compliance than the initiatives of company employees (Graphs №1 and №2).


Graph 1: Sustainability 360 – Administration

Graphs 1 and 2 show the average data on the questionnaires of representatives (1 – administration, 2 – employees) of the studied offices. Participants’ responses are divided into five levels of maturity according to their performance in each area: the farther the score is from the center, the more advanced the area is considered to be. At the same time, the maximum, fifth level, was adopted based on the actual best practices identified in the study.


Graph 2: Sustainability 360 – Employees

Environmental policy of companies

With a high level of development of the company, there is a developed strategy for sustainable development, reports are published (Graph №3). At the initial level of development, the company has separate regulations: for example, requirements for sorting waste, using reusable dishes, turning off computers after the end of the working day.


The study showed:

  • there is a strategy for sustainable development, annual reports are published by 30% of companies;
  • 27% of companies have regulations for certain environmental areas;
  • the developed strategy without reporting is presented in 16% of companies;
  • strategy is under development in 19% of companies.


Graph 3: Maturity levels of environmental policy

Eco-education of employees

With a high level of development in the company, various events are held, the purpose of which is to educate employees in the field of ecology in the form of lectures, master classes, volunteer events, regular thematic mailings, posting information on environmentally responsible behavior on public stands.


The study showed:

  • in accordance with administrative questionnaires, environmental education is carried out in almost all companies (97%), while only 76% of employees confirmed the fact of holding such events (Graph №4).


Graph 4: Involvement in environmental activities

Building certification

The fact that the building has been certified according to one of the internationally recognized certification schemes for green building standards (LEED, BREEAM, DGNB) already indicates that the building was built or operated taking into account environmental protection requirements, a comfortable atmosphere has been created inside the building, and the finishing has been completed. qualitatively, attention is paid to the issues of reducing energy and water consumption.


The study showed:

  • five out of 33 offices are certified according to green building standards (LEED, BREEAM);
  • average market practice — no attention is paid to this issue in the market.



To identify the environmental impact of the transport used by employees to travel from home to work, questions were included in the questionnaire to determine the shares of public and alternative transport in the total number of trips (Graph №5).


The study showed:

  • 65% of employees surveyed use public transport to travel to work;
  • 25% travel by private car;
  • 5% use car sharing services;
  • 2% travel by bike;
  • 8% commute to work on foot;
  • 45% of respondents spend on the way to work from 30 minutes to an hour.


Graph 5: Type of transport used

Waste and materials

Eco-friendly materials and furniture

The assessment of the environmental friendliness of finishing materials and furniture was determined by several parameters: the presence of recognized environmental labels (EPD-certificates, CradletoCradle for finishing materials, furniture with Blue Angel, Nordic Swan, Green Guard, FSC eco-labels, etc.), the use of recycled content in materials and furniture, the use of finishing materials with low levels of volatile organic compounds (Graph №6).


The study showed:

  • average market practice – companies do not pay special attention to the issues of environmental labeling of furniture and building materials;
  • average market practice – these materials are applied randomly.


Eco-responsible purchasing

Depending on the level of development of sustainable development measures in companies, either comprehensive policies for responsible purchasing, or recommendations for certain types of purchased products, such as FSC paper, as well as requirements for the share of recycled content, can be developed.


The study showed:

  • 60% of offices have implemented environmentally responsible purchasing programs;
  • average market practice – special regulations on eco-procurement are not practiced.


Separate collection and recycling of waste

Waste sorting can be the first step in developing a company’s environmental responsibility.


The study showed:

  • average market practice – more than 80% of respondents support separate waste collection, while half of them do not have such an opportunity;
  • average market practice – slightly more than half of the companies conduct separate waste collection, despite extensive coverage of this issue;
  • the best practice from the experience of survey participants is that the company has a policy of zero waste disposal, waste is reduced and recycled up to 100%;
  • waste management procedures are implemented in procurement, actual collection and sorting, relationships with suppliers and partners, and waste audits are carried out.


Saving Consumables

Companies could confirm sustainable use of materials through accepted rules for the use of reusable tableware, double-sided printing, the preference for hand dryers over paper towels, the use of reusable cloth towels or paper towels with recycled fiber and eco-labels.


The study showed:

  • 84% of offices implemented paper saving programs;
  • disposable tableware is not used in 46% of offices, while in 29% it is used only for guests;
  • 49% of offices use recycled fiber paper towels and/or eco-labeled towels,
  • 38% use electric hand dryers;
  • average market practice – the most popular measure is the recommendation to use two-sided printing and not to print electronic messages;
  • average market practice – disposable tableware is used only in the kitchens of employees;
  • average market practice – in most cases, electric dryers with paper towels are used.


Safe household chemicals

An important criterion for a green office is the use of cleaning chemicals that are safe for people and the environment (the absence of chlorine, phosphates, phosphonates, anionic surfactants), the availability of eco-labels for them (EU Ecolabel, Blue Angel, ICEA), and the rejection of aerosol air fresheners.


The study showed:

62% of offices use eco-friendly or eco-labeled detergents and cleaners;

only 16% of offices do not use aerosol air fresheners.


Health and comfort for employees

Physical health

Employees can be motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle by providing corporate discounts to the gym, organizing sports competitions and infrastructure on the outside or inside of the office (bike parking, separate areas and facilities for sports) (Graph №6).


The study showed:

  • 29% of companies say that corporate sporting events are regularly held in and out of the office;
  • 27% of companies provide a corporate discount to the gym;
  • 22% of companies have a program to support cycling (for example, organized bike parking);
  • average market practice – only 46% of respondents satisfy their physical need for movement, and more than half lead a sedentary lifestyle (sedentary work, do not go to the gym).


Graph 6: Employee Physical Activity Level

Mental health

The extent to which the mental health aspects of employees are worked out depends on the presence of activities in the company that give employees the opportunity to reduce the level of stress in the workplace: for example, through flexible hours, organizing a recreation area, working from home, holding thematic events such as work-life balance training. life, stress resistance (Chart No. 7).


The study showed:

  • 38% of companies practice the possibility of working from home, flexible hours;
  • 12% regularly conduct trainings to maintain work-life balance;
  • 21% implements a program of psychological support for employees;
  • average market practice – 73% of employees constantly experience medium and high levels of stress at work.


Graph 7: Stress levels in the workplace

Infrastructure and food quality

To identify the positive and negative components of the quality of food, first of all, an analysis of the available infrastructure was carried out (the presence and quantity of a canteen, a cafe, a restaurant, a kitchen area with a refrigerator and the possibility of heating food near the office). The assessment of the level of food quality, similar to the level of comfort, was carried out taking into account the individual preferences of employees (Graph №8 and Graph №9). The availability of drinking water in the office was also analyzed (availability of built-in tap water filtration systems, coolers, domestic filters, bottled water).


The study showed:

  • 15% of offices implement a program to promote healthy eating;
  • average market practice – most offices have a cafe or canteen, as well as vending machines with snacks, but in general, about 75% of respondents are not satisfied with this provision;
  • average market practice – only 44% are completely satisfied with the quality of food


Graph 8: Level of development of food infrastructure near the office

Graph 9: Quality of food during working hours (1 point – poor, 5 points – perfect)

Energy and water consumption

Energy efficient solutions

The maximum impact on the energy efficiency of a building or office is possible during the design and construction period. To assess the energy efficiency of the office, information was collected on the fact that the design and construction took into account the best world practices, conducted energy modeling, energy audit with the assignment of an energy efficiency class to the building (Graph №10 and Graph №11).


The study showed:

  • average market practice – no attention is paid to this issue, or a mandatory formal energy audit was carried out. Often, the landlord pays for the utility bills.


Graph 10: Popularity of energy efficiency measures among respondents


Reducing water consumption

To identify the implemented water-efficient solutions, it was determined whether the companies had programs to reduce water consumption, the use of plumbing equipment with low water consumption, aerators, and touch-controlled faucets. If there is a landscaping zone on the adjacent territory of the building, the absence of an irrigation system was considered a water-efficient measure. The presence of technologies for the use of gray water (wastewater in washbasins, bathtubs, showers) was revealed.


The study showed:

  • all participants in the study think about reducing water consumption, have separate solutions to reduce water consumption, none of the respondents said that gray water is used in their office;
  • drinking water in 85% of offices is represented by coolers and built-in drinking water systems, 15% of offices order bottled water.


Graph 11: Popularity of measures to improve water conservation

Comfort in the office and regulation of environmental parameters

The assessment of the comfort level is based on the satisfaction of employees with the conditions in the office, based on individual preferences. In addition, the presence of visual comfort zones and landscaping in the office is considered.


The study showed:

  • about 90% of the surveyed employees consider the atmosphere in the office comfortable;
  • 90% of companies said that more than half of employees have access to the regulation of indoor comfort parameters;
  • 95% of employees reported that the office has landscaping elements;
  • average market practice – only 47% of employees are satisfied with temperature, lighting, humidity, air freshness and absence of drafts;
  • average market practice – the microclimate is regulated by the operator in the room as a whole.


Graphs №12 and №13 show examples of positive and negative environmental factors.


Graph 12: Positive factors of the internal environment

Graph 13: Negative factors of the internal environment

Changing of the climate

Analysis of greenhouse gas emissions

As part of the analysis of accounting for CO2 emissions associated with the life of the company, the following activities were considered:

  • availability of requirements or initiatives to monitor CO2 emissions from the company’s activities, their implementation;
  • carrying out calculations on CO2 emissions from business trips of employees;
  • preference for purchasing products with a lower carbon footprint;
  • having a strategy to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions.


The study showed:

  • calculation and annual monitoring of carbon dioxide emissions is carried out in 27% of offices, of which 22% is a company requirement, and 5% is the office’s own CSR initiative. At the same time, 22% of companies plan to introduce CO2 accounting in the near future, and 51% do not want to pay attention to this aspect, since this is a technically difficult task to solve;
  • accounting for CO2 from business trips is carried out in 16% of companies, including 13% enter the results in the report on business trips of employees, and 3% take this data into account to reduce the number of trips and choose alternative modes of transport; 80% of offices do not record and analyze CO2 emissions from business trips;
  • 30% of companies say they take into account the carbon footprint when purchasing goods and services, if possible;
  • 10% of companies implement a strategy to achieve zero CO2 emissions in June, 19% have it under development, 70% do not have such a strategy and do not plan to do so in the near future (Graph №14).


Graph 14: Implementation rate of CO2 accounting

The state of maturity of the green office market

As a result of the study, it was revealed that the desire of companies to improve the environmental friendliness of offices is associated with the factors reflected in Table №1.


Table 1: Maturity status of the green office market

Conclusions and areas of potential development

Most of the companies that participated in the survey have developed sustainable development strategies or policies in certain areas and carry out environmental education activities. When decorating the offices, eco-friendly materials and furniture were used. Measures implemented at the operational stage include separate collection of waste (up to three fractions), eco-labeled paper towels, safe detergents are used. Many offices offer flexible working hours. Based on the responses of employees, it can be seen that in general they are satisfied with the offices of their companies. This suggests that the level of inquiries of employees is correlated with the level of maturity of the companies in which they work. For example, if a company provides various services and additional conditions for comfortable work, then the quality of employees and the requirements from them grow.


The authors:

Ilya Zavaleev

  • LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, PMP Specialist
  • CEO, co-founder of HPBS


Marina Kouprianova

  • LEED AP BD+C Specialist
  • BREEAM Assessor
  • HPBS partner


The journal Executive Director No. 1 (February-March 2018) published a study by HPBS “Sustainable Development in Offices 360”, the purpose of which was to determine the compliance of the office space of each of the participants in the study with environmental and social indicators, to stimulate the creation of favorable conditions for people, business and nature , i.e. green office culture, and maintaining sustainable development practices in the corporate culture.


To download the article, follow the link


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