Collaborative workplace is inspirational and sustainable

© garagoncilo, #171417302, 2018, source:


Sustainability Waste Materials
Administration Education, health and social work
Co2 emission reduction:
Based on the re-use of 729 office/meeting room desks – 50.04 tonnes of C02e saved.
Size of company:
Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Intermediate Advanced

Inspired ideas... green results!

  • Public health body creates a unique workplace, embedding sustainability as a core principle
  • Innovative approach to procuring re-used, remanufactured office equipment, furnishings, flooring, equipment and products as possible

In 2016, Public Health Wales (PHW) relocated from several smaller satellite offices across Wales to one new large open-plan office in Cardiff Bay (4 740 m2 over four floors) catering for around 500 staff. PHW wanted to create a unique environment designed to encourage a collaborative, social, and learning-focused workspace which embedded sustainability as a core principle.

The brief produced for furnishing the building emphasised the need for environmental, economic and social sustainability to be demonstrated throughout the refit. In order to achieve this PHW took a new and innovative approach to procuring office equipment, furnishings, flooring, equipment and products. PHW wanted the successful bidder to use as much of the existing office furniture as was reasonable: repairing and refurbishing where necessary and adding new elements as required. The exercise was based on a collaborative approach, rather than a detailed specification of numbers and needs, with suppliers invited to provide tenders which, in a variety of means, would meet the client’s design and supply needs. 

The tender brief stipulated the need to combine existing, re-used and remanufactured items as a core requirement, along with a design concept fitting with PHW’s aspirations for a workspace incorporating goals for collaboration, socialisation, learning, and focus, whilst meeting the functionality of the space required. Plans also needed to consider the sustainability requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

Important criteria for procurement included:

  • Use of PHW’s existing furniture stock, including those which may need a ‘nip and tuck’
  • Sourcing additional refurbished and pre-owned items
  • Sourcing new items, only where necessary, to meet the rationale of the design, using recycled content and/or eco-design principles

A day was arranged to brief potential suppliers and for PHW to better understand if the sector was able to deliver on the project requirements.

Key results

The bulk of the furniture used for the new office was either re-used and remanufactured from existing furniture or sourced from elsewhere, many of these items, had they not been re-used, would have been destined for landfill. In the refit, 1 143 individual items were re-used; these items were cleaned, repaired and reupholstered. A further 1 270 pieces were remanufactured, which involved taking the long-life elements of high-quality used furniture (like metal frames), checking and resurfacing them, and rebuilding the rest of the item around them. Items included office chairs, canteen and meeting chairs, carpet tiles, office pedestals, desk high storage cabinets, sofas, whiteboards, and coat stands.

A mix of new and re-used carpet tiles were used to carpet the offices' floor areas; in total 4 685 m2 of carpet tiles were installed with 670 m2 (14 %) of these being re-used. The percentage of re-used carpets was relatively low due to the consistency of re-used stock rather than general availability. Both new and re-used tiles were supplied and fitted by a third-sector organisation which provides job training and career pathways for the unemployed.

Estimated environmental impacts of re-using selected products in the UK: WRAP (2015) Benefits of Re-use calculator

Furniture figures and Photos provided by Rype Office

Carpet tiles figures supplied by Greenstream Flooring

Factors to note when looking at case study calculations used for CO2e savings:

  1. Preparation for re-use is when an item is discarded as waste and then brought back into use

  2. Direct re-use includes exchange for money, exchange for free and charity shops.

  3. The figures allow for 100% displacement rates. The assumption is that PHW is deliberately procuring re-used in place of new items.

  4. This update covers 92% of the re-used/refurbished furniture items involved in the PHW fit-out. We don't hold specific data for some items.

  5. All desks and tables are treated as office desks

  6. All chairs are treated as office chairs.

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