office space

5 Green Design Trends in the Commercial Office Space

It is no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the traditional office space on its head. However, in all honesty, the health crisis only intensified a trend already in motion, as many companies had been exploring how remote work could help them control office costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

Moving forward, commercial offices must be conspicuously “green” to have any chance of success. Companies must be able to control their overhead costs to stay competitive in a remote, e-commerce atmosphere and meet consumers’ increasing corporate sustainability demands. 

As such, consider the following green design trends to create a viable commercial office space for 2020 and beyond.

1. Eliminate Assigned Office Spaces

The days of the cold, gray, cookie-cutter offices are a thing of the past. Commercial spaces are increasingly tearing down walls and replacing offices with open-floor work areas to give employees more freedom of creativity. This can provide a number of energy-conserving benefits, including:

  • Fewer barriers to restrict the flow of light
  • Improved indoor air circulation to reduce HVAC demands
  • Reduced resource consumption during repair and renovation, as open spaces can be easily repurposed

Despite these energy-saving benefits of an open floor plan, there will be times when privacy is needed in the office. When this is the case, a partition glass wall system is superior to traditional stand-in-place structures. These innovative walls maintain the green properties of an open-floor concept and can be easily situated to create the desired office space.

2. Build Glass Walls and Full-Spanning Windows

It is becoming increasingly uncommon to see a commercial office building that does not feature at least one glass wall or a full-spanning window. Usually, this will be on the south-facing side of the building to allow for maximum sunlight throughout the day.

If you are concerned the sun will get too hot or bright, or exterior noise and distractions will get in the way of work productivity, consider the benefits of architectural grilles. These structures allow for the transmission of natural light into your building while filtering out exterior distractions. 

3. Include Polished Concrete Floors

When speaking in terms of floors, there are two primary factors driving sustainability: 1) floors that reduce maintenance and replacement efforts and 2) floors that do not require electricity to clean.

As such, many sprawling commercial spaces, such as airport terminals and hospitals, use epoxy terrazzo for its durable, nonporous fabrication. If terrazzo is too expensive for your commercial office space, consider polished concrete as an alternative. Modern polished concrete floors come in a variety of tactful designs, all while providing elite durability and requiring little more than a push of the broom to clean.

4. Make Use of Acoustic Clouds

The increasing cost of rent, combined with the desire to make more efficient use of space, requires modern office spaces to be exceptionally versatile. Contemporary office buildings will likely play host to a plethora of companies and activities–often at the same time.

Cutting-edge materials are required to capitalize on the cost and resource savings made possible by maximizing a building’s allocation. In addition to modular glass panels to help apportion the space, the use of acoustic sound clouds is a great way to ensure noise does not transfer unnecessarily, keeping the office focused and productive at all designated areas.

5. Use Eco-Friendly Furniture

Contemporary workers and consumers are increasingly resistant to the image of the stiff corporate office. Instead of the solid-oak desk and leather sofas that have been the traditional staples in plush commercial offices, consider some of the following choices:

  • Herman Miller office chairs built with 100% renewable energy and recyclable products
  • Furniture mats made out of bamboo
  • Green Store shelves and bookcases made from 99% recycled paper


In order to stay relevant in an increasingly remote and environmentally conscious society, modern commercial office spaces must lower their carbon footprint. From projects that lower day-to-day nonrenewable energy consumption to products geared to reduce energy demands in future repairs and replacements, the above ideas can help your office space stay ahead of green trends in commercial design.

Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value. 

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