Lend Lease’s London HQ has excellent sustainability credentials, a green roof terrace that has been created from bare concrete decking and has almost 100 per cent Forest Stewardship Council-accredited timber.
But its function first and foremost is as an office and a building where staff spend a large majority of their time - and in that role it is comfortable and functional.
The fit-out of the building was designed with the employees in mind and has a raft of measures intended to make the internal environment and employee experience better.
“The aim with this fit-out was to maximise the client’s needs and in this case the client is the employees,” says Lend Lease sustainability manager Duncan Young.
The offices were intended not only to be sustainable, but also to create a better working space, encourage collaboration and “give employees the infrastructure to drive the business forward”, explains Mr Young.
This begins with the style of the building, which he says is planned to be more like a hotel than a corporate building.
The timber floor is a focal point in the office, made of 100-year-old French oak that has been recycled from railway carriages. This has the dual purpose of being sustainable and durable.
“The floor also provides a talking point for visitors and employees. It provides a robust finish, which does not need much maintenance, but this is paired with classic design,” says Mr Young.
The materials used throughout the build and finish were chosen with the same objectives in mind - sustainability, durability and functionality.
Surfaces were painted with low-volatile organic compound paints, pinboards are made from a combination of natural materials, the external decking is made of a combination of sawdust and recycled plastic and the floor coverings are quadrant modular carpet which can be easily replaced in high traffic areas.
The building has been designed to maximise the use of natural light, but also has daylight dimming and a lighting system that can be accessed and adjusted remotely, as lighting makes up as much as 20 per cent of the building’s energy bill.
Lend Lease has achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating for the office fit-out under BREEAM 2008, and is the first company to achieve this in the UK.
One aspect of the building’s build and fit-out that was particularly difficult to achieve was the FSC certification, which was 100 per cent for the base building and 99 per cent for the fit-out.
This means all the timber used was from responsibly harvested, sustainable sources and can be verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain.
This is a not an easy standard to achieve, so to help employees better understand sustainability measures such as this, Lend Lease has also introduced a series of interpretive learning trails on various themes around the building.
“The idea is to engage and educate staff about the building and its aims, including getting FSC accreditation and the biodiversity of the site,” says Mr Young.
Creating a pleasant working environment while also keeping the building’s carbon emissions low was another important aspect of the building and the fit-out.
One area Lend Lease concentrated on was the internal air quality to counter sick building syndrome and other associated problems.
Fresh air rates have been increased to their maximum, materials were chosen to minimise the leaching of volatile organic compounds and some 4,000 plants are growing around the office to help filter pollutants from the air.
“The plants are all around the building along borders and on many surfaces, which keeps rubbish off desks so it is environmentally beneficial and helps create a better working environment,” says Mr Young.
“People and machines bring chemicals into the building, so the plants have been selected specifically to improve the air quality,” he says.
Machines such as photocopiers that release odours or chemicals have been segregated from the main workspaces in an attempt to improve the indoor air quality.
Aside from improving the internal office environment, the building also has a 260 sq m green roof terrace, which includes a habitat wall that encourages insects and nesting birds.
“This is the largest habitat wall on a commercial office in the UK, and encourages beneficial birds and insects to come and nest in the wall,” says Mr Young. It is up to staff to manage and maintain the wall and the sedum roof.
“Staff take ownership of the wall; they take pictures of the panels and send them off to scientists who monitor the wall,” says Mr Young.
Lend Lease head of strategy and new business Janet Kidner says these activities also help in employee relations. “It gets people working together in ways they wouldn’t have before,” she says.
Employee engagement is a large aspect of how the success of the building will be judged, and many of the measures are already proving popular with staff.
“The level of interest for the gardening and insect club has been great and slightly unexpected,” says Ms Kidner.
“For the initial meeting we booked a 25-person meeting room, but we had 60 to 70 people turn up who wanted to be involved. We want that level of engagement and for people to be proud of where they work.”
While the building provides employees with a workplace they can take pride in, it also provides Lend Lease with an example of the type of buildings the company can build for its clients.
“The building sells Lend Lease’s services as a company; we can bring clients here and show them what we do. We don’t need to do intensive marketing, as they can come here and see it for themselves,” says Mr Young.
Staff moved into the building in November 2011, including some members of the former Bovis Lend Lease, to encourage integration following the dropping of the Bovis brand last year.
Bovis was acquired by Lend Lease in 1999 but remained Bovis Lend Lease until early 2011, when Lend Lease announced it was dropping brand names including Bovis, Catalyst and Vita in order to simplify the company under the Lend Lease name.
Former Bovis Lend Lease employees who had been based in Harrow moved into Lend Lease’s new headquarters, which the company says has improved engagement between the two brands.
“The office move has been very positive for integration,” says Ms Kidner. “Most of the staff moved in in November 2011 and since then there has been greater collaboration.”
The building is planned to create a collaborative working space, which brings two quite distinctive brands together in one building.
“We needed to do something special to bring them together, and so far we have had lots of positive feedback from the staff who moved from Harrow, as they understand the benefits of working in this building,” says Mr Young.