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Posts by Ramon Arratia

Biophilic design – Not just beautiful spaces

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Biophilic design is only going to become more prevalent in the work place over time. There are some great examples out there already, including these below captured by Oliver Heath from Human Spaces. These are on a large scale and in most instances are works in progress. However if you skim through Google you’ll come across many smaller businesses who apply the same principles in their working spaces – bringing the outside in, allowing nature to lead the way.

1. Apple’s Campus 2, Cupertino, California, USA

Designed by UK based Foster + Partners Apples new HQ is proposed to be in Cupertino, California close to Apple’s existing headquarters. The 176 acres of land will house a 260,128 m2 office, a research and development building, an auditorium, research facilities, a fitness centre, cafe and a low carbon power plant to generate electricity for the campus.


Apple Campus 2 - Courtesy of the City of Cupertino

Underground parking will enable 6,000 trees to be planted with a network of walking paths for pedestrians to meander through the site. At the centre of the circular building there is a large circular courtyard where Apple’s employees can socialise, get some fresh air and have some restorative time away from their desks – crucially creating the opportunity to meet and cross fertilise ideas. Having natural landscapes within and surrounding the building means that employees will have views out to nature throughout the building whilst the large glass windows will allow plenty of natural light to flood the interior.

The design team state that the priorities outlined for this project are to:

* Maximise the amount of landscaped green space.

* Provide an expanse of open and green space for Apple employees’ enjoyment.

* Create a distinctive and inspiring 21st Century workplace.

* Exceed economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals through integrated design and development.


Apple Campus 2 - Courtesy of City of Cupertino

2. Facebook’s MPK 20, Palo Alto, California, USA

Recently opened this 40,000m2 office building on a 22 acre site has been designed by Frank Gehry. CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims it is the world’s largest open-plan office with one room that houses 2,800 employees to encourage collaboration. Plenty of Biophilic features have been incorporated which make this an aspirational place in which to work:


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Throughout the interior vibrant colours and natural materials are used to define areas and bring the metal, concrete and glass shell to life, e.g. one space immerses the occupier into a vibrant orange hue that emulates stepping into a sunset.

* The vast interior also includes smaller spaces where staff can retreat in order to work together more privately and restorative spaces in which to relax furnished with a range of textured furniture and carpet to stimulate the senses.

* The building also features a 9 acre rooftop park which gives employees plenty of access to nature when they step outside.

* Inside large double height windows enable views out to the planted surroundings and plenty of natural light to flood into the space.


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3. Amazon HQ, Seattle, USA

With their proposed offices Amazon are “seeking to build a neighbourhood rather than a campus”. The new neighbourhood which will be situated in downtown Seattle will be 3.3 million Square foot over 3 blocks of the city and will include 3 high-rise, two mid-rise office block, a multi-purpose meeting centre as well as a public dog-waking park, cycle track and ground-level retail spaces.

The highlight of this proposal for us is the three adjoining domes which will be at the centre of the development. These structures which are reminiscent of the Eden Project’s bio-domes will house four floors of open planned flexible work space and a range of trees and plants. The architects NBBJ say “The generative idea is that a plant-rich environment has many positive qualities that are not often found in a typical office setting, while the form of the building will be visually reminiscent of a greenhouse or conservatory, plant material will be selected for its ability to co-exist in a microclimate that also suits people.”


Amazon Seattle 2

These businesses are using biophilic design to their benefit in numerous ways- firstly to improve staff health and well-being – reducing absenteeism and presenteeism. Secondly, looking to create productive, creative and engaging spaces for staff that stimulates co working and the fertilisation of ideas. But also to attract staff in what’s termed the War for Talent, appealing to graduates with desirable spaces. And once there, it is hoped that this strengthened connection to nature will be alluring enough to retain staff for longer.

Whilst not all businesses would be able to construct their offices from scratch these designs offer a vision for the potential of future workplace design that can inspire smaller scale Biophilic Design approaches.

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More on Net-Works – Recycling Initiative

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Net-Works is an initiative we helped set up that enables local residents in developing countries to collect discarded nets, which wreak havoc with the marine ecosystem, and sell them back into a global supply chain – giving those destructive, broken nets a second life as beautiful and long-lasting carpet tile.

The product of an unlikely partnership, the Net-Works programme is proof that when business, conservation, and communities innovate together, we can create positive, sustainable change.

Here is a great resource for more information. We would really appreciate your support and feedback. Click on the image to connect with the site and blog.


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Understanding the UNFCCC negotiations on climate change – Infographic

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A quick flick back in recent time to take a look at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in one mapped infographic via The Climate Group.

The original UN climate treaty. Established the basic framework and principles for international climate change action. Developed countries committed to take the lead with developing countries agreeing to take action with financial and technological support and as they developed. No legally emission targets agreed for any countries.

Requires industrialised countries to make a collective binding emission cut of 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. Introduced innovative new instruments, including the Clean Development Mechanism. US never ratified. First commitment period (2008-12) covered 50% of 1990 global emissions. Second commitment period coverage down to ~15% as Canada, Japan, Russia and New Zealand join US in opting-out and developing country emissions grow.

Last minute, high-level political agreement reached at COP15 in Copenhagen. Introduced the global goal of keeping warming to 2 degrees. Also the first time both developed AND developing countries made emission reduction pledges. This marked a shift away from purely top-down to more bottom-action up action under the UNFCCC, as well as breaking down the distinction of action between developed and developing countries.

Process to agree new treaty covering all countries established at COP17 Durban in 2011. Negotiations meant to conclude in 2015 with treaty in force from 2020. COP18 provided further shape and direction to the process, which should begin substantive discussions from 2013.

Click on the image to enlarge




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The Mission Zero Green Highway

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Mission Zero Corridor ProjectIs it possible to have a ‘green highway’? The #MissionZero Corridor Project in West Georgia believes that it is.

It has appointed breakthrough innovation consultancy Innovia Technology to help create a ‘travel corridor’ and rethink the purpose and function of this infrastructure to generate social, environmental and economic value. Alastair MacGregor, CEO of Innovia Technology, is excited by the challenge, which will see the company evaluate the technologies identified by the project, for example: algae biodiesel gas stations; smart solar-powered roads; moon-cycle adjusting lights; wildlife bridges; driverless cars; electric-car charging lanes and cultural greenways. MacGregor says: “Worldwide the highway infrastructure is continuously maintained, rebuilt and expanded at considerable economic and environmental cost.

The Mission Zero Corridor Project is proposing an alternative future where highways have a positive impact on our communities. It’s very exciting to be involved in making this vision a reality.” The Mission Zero Corridor Project aims to be a fitting legacy for the late Ray C Anderson, “the greenest CEO” and founder of Interface Inc., the largest global manufacturer of modular carpet. Back in 1994 Ray read the book ‘The Ecology of Commerce’ and it transformed his outlook on business and the environment. With his company’s global reach and manufacturing footprint, he realised he was in a position to do something very real and important towards building a more sustainable world. Ray developed the Mission Zero framework to eliminate Interface’s environmental impact while maintaining productivity and still turning a profit. The aim was a promise to “eliminate any negative impacts the company may have on the environment by 2020” and the framework created a blueprint for business sustainability.

Proposed plan for Exit 14 of the Ray C Anderson Memorial Highway


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Closing the net on a coastal problem via innovative remanufacturing

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Envirotec piece net-worksHere is a great piece of coverage for Net-Works thanks to Envirotec. The article discusses the worldwide positioning on waste and where we must make changes if we want to see a significant difference in future.

Our Net-Works initiative is used as a successful example of sourcing raw materials from discarded waste and remanufacturing it back into Interface carpet tiles.

Here is a small excerpt and the full article can be read here:

“Ramon Arratia, Sustainability Director at carpet tile manufacturer Interface, shares his own company’s experience of reusing waste products, via an innovative third-world project.
To create a circular economy, we must work with the mentality that ‘waste’ does not exist. Instead, when materials and products reach the end of their useful life, they go on to create something new, becoming a future raw material and re-entering the supply chain.

It’s best to eliminate waste at all stages of the product’s lifecycle. This might require thinking about how the raw materials are sourced and extracted, how the product is manufactured, its performance in use and what happens to it at the end of its life. Rather than being discarded as waste, the product should go on to be mined for its raw materials and remanufactured back into the supply chain.
It’s important to remember that waste is everywhere. An over-engineered product, for instance, can produce a significant amount of waste during production, not just after it has served its purpose. Businesses need to consider the whole life cycle of a product and rethink how the entire supply chain is functioning.

Widening the net to reduce waste By re-using materials and incorporating discarded waste into manufacturing, organisations can reduce their waste to landfill. In addition, if businesses work with the supply chain in a smart and inclusive way, recuperating waste can also have socio-economic benefits, such as creating jobs and income for disadvantaged communities.
To source new raw material from existing waste, Interface created the cross-sector initiative Net-Works in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and yarn manufacturer Aquafill.

The partnership is designed to tackle the growing problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities and undertakes the task of re-manufacturing the nets into carpet tiles.
Since its launch Net-Works has established a community-based supply chain, providing socio-economic benefits to local villagers and fishermen in the Philippines while successfully helping to clean up the area’s oceans and providing a continuous source of recycled materials for use in Interface’s carpet tiles.
While Net-Works demonstrates an innovative model for closing the manufacturing loop, it also provides a template for the future of sustainable manufacturing in the carpet tile industry and beyond.
Following the success of the programme in rural coastal areas of the Philippines, Net-Works is now rolling out to the Lake Ossa region of Cameroon.”

More here and via @envirotecmag

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Which companies have incorporated biophilic design?

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Most of Silicon Valley’s companies have incorporated biophilic design concepts both externally and internally.

“Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development.” – Stephen Kellert

This video tells more:

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Closing the loop – #MissionZero

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Closing the loop

In 1994 we started Mission Zero®, our commitment to eliminate our negative impact on the environment by 2020. Along with increasing efficiency, design innovation and recycling efforts, we are constantly looking to replace virgin raw materials as one way to close the loop around our products and cut our dependency on oil.

Download the full pdf here.

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Ocean Plastics Awareness Day – 22nd July

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Ocean Plastic

Today is ‘Ocean Plastics Awareness Day’

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be taking part in the event on Fistral Beach, Newquay.

“The Ocean Plastics Awareness Day offers NGOs, academia, local and national government and industry an opportunity to commit to exploring and delivering pilot circular economy projects that will prevent the flow of plastics to local beaches and reuse plastic waste removed by local cleansing activities.”

Cornwall has some of the most beautiful beaches and countryside in the UK. However, all too often they are blighted by litter. Signatories will support, explore and develop innovative circular economy pilot projects including:

* Reduction of Single Use Bottles: Increasing the number of accessible water fountains, for example at beaches, other tourist spots and university campuses, supported by additional voluntary action by café owners to give a discount to customers bringing their own reusable drinks containers. Other measures would be to improve plastic bottle recycling schemes in these locations, including introducing deposit return schemes and provide access to free re-useable drinks bottles.

* Fishing Net Collection & Recycling: The implementation of further innovative fishing net collection and recycling schemes to produce high quality, fully recyclable products such as carpet tiles and skateboards. Ocean Plastic Awareness Day:

* Plastic Product Innovation: Working with industry to close the loop on plastic marine litter by developing and delivering innovative collaborations to reuse (marine) plastic waste as part of useful, durable and recyclable products from clothing to car parts.

Signatories: Surfers Against Sewage, The Marine Conservation Society, Clean Cornwall, Cornwall Rural Community Charity, Cornwall’s Fisheries Local Action Group, Plymouth University, Plymouth University – Marine Institute, Plymouth University – Sustainability & Surfing Group, Newquay Junior Academy Finisterre, Keep Britain Tidy, Riz Boardshorts, The UK Deposit Alliance, World Animal Protection, Interface, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Divers Against Debris, The Cornish Seal Sanctuary and The Zoological Society of London.

Read the letter of intent and next actions here.

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Embedding Sustainability – Live Twitter chat this Thursday

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2degrees will be hosting our live Twitter chat this Thursday – 23rd July at 1pm BST.  Ask questions on Twitter via the hashtag #AskInterface or listen in/debate via the same.

We will be discussing how you can embed sustainability at the heart of your business model to drive innovation.

About 2degrees:

2degrees is the world’s leading collaboration platform and service for sustainable business with over 48,800 members from 177 countries. Our large scale programs and member services enable thousands of people to solve problems, share best practice and collaborate to procure solutions. As a result our members and clients are able to accelerate their sustainable business strategies to innovate and cut costs, risks and impacts, whilst at the same time driving shareholder value. In this way, we make sustainable business happen.”

About the Twitter chat (via 2degrees):

“When it comes to sustainable business, Interface is on a mission. Mission Zero is a 25 year programme to show the industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions.

Sustainability Director and author Ramon Arratia will be answering your questions during this 1 hour Twitter Chat. You’ll have the chance to learn why and how this pioneering company has put sustainability top of their agenda, and pick-up tips to apply to your own business.

Join Ramon Arratia on 23 July for first-hand insight on how they’ve overcome challenges to adopting a sustainable approach, as well as the business benefits, and how they are using innovation to push the agenda forward.”

Discussion topics will include:

* How to use sustainability to drive innovation

* Incorporating sustainability into product design

* Bringing your stakeholders on the sustainability journey – how to engage customers and suppliers

* Tips and advice for companies just starting out

* Going all in, and scaling sustainability focus


Simply follow the hashtag #AskInterface to get involved.

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