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Opening the doors to Arup’s new sustainable office

Global company Arup is known for its professional services in design, engineering, architecture. Now the business is putting words into action and designing its own sustainably designed New Zealand office, based in the heart of Britomart, Auckland and we got a sneak peek into Arup’s new office.

Located in an Auckland historic building, Arup is seeking to gain ‘Living Building Challenge’ certification, an accreditation that recognises effort in offsetting its carbon footprint whilst creating a new office.

The ‘Living Building Challenge’ is asking Arup to stretch its sustainability goal to leave a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the people and planet.

“Sustainable development is at the heart of Arup’s purpose, so it made sense for us to strive for the most rigorous sustainability credentials in designing our new Auckland office,” says Mayurie Gunatilaka, New Zealand Country Leader for Arup.

“We’re so proud of this new space which brings to life Arup’s purpose of shaping a better world through sustainable development, which aligns with the Māori principle of kaitiakitanga – caring for and nurturing the natural environment.”

As a company that preaches sustainability values, Gunatilaka says they weren’t just going to talk about it and not do it otherwise “it really isn’t authentic”.

Choosing the heritage building was perfect for the company, as it ticked all the boxes when it came to picking a location that was growing and was close to public transport.

“We wanted to be in an area where we can attract good people to good places, so we were looking for a space that appealed to the sustainability and the environmental effects that we want to put into the design,” says Sue Myocevich, Document Control Lead at Arup.

Read more: Biophilic design: The architecture style putting nature first

“So, we found the space, and as soon as we saw it and we saw the heritage building as it was, we just looked at each other and knew from that first moment.”

Gunatilaka says the building is at the best location for employees to enjoy the precinct and use the ferry, buses, train, walk and even cycle.

“They can go and sit outside and enjoy the precinct and really build their wellbeing and how they feel,” she adds.

The heritage building fit the Arup criteria; it was the perfect place to “come together”.

To create the space, Arup worked alongside Unispace and cultural advisors at Te Manu Taupuato create the bespoke area that is strongly connected to the Māori culture.

They also worked very closely with Mana Whenua iwi to ensure the significance of the culture was correctly represented.

Creating the office included ensuring the right materials were used to live up to the ‘Living Building Challenge’ and created no waste.

Alongside ensuring there was no waste, Arup used left over material from the building and implemented them into the build, using it in the office furniture and more.

The Arup office also implemented biophilic design, allowing CO2 emission in the building for both the health and spiritual wellbeing of each employee.

“One of the key features is our island bench, that has been made by completely recycled plastic bags,” says Myocevich.

“We just wanted to really look at how we could really work sustainably with the materials that we’re putting in here.”

The office also runs on resource efficiency, using 35 percent less power and 30 percent less water, with all the carbon emissions and upfront impact offset.

Now, Arup is in the 12-month monitoring stage of the challenge, focusing on both what has been have done and what is still in the works.

Everything from air quality to recycling is monitored to ensure the company lives up to the ‘Living Building Challenge’ standards.

“And when we do [achieve the standards], we will be the first New Zealand fit out to have achieved the certification.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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