Public Health was previously split between many buildings with different amounts of space, varying provision of facilities and levels of comfort. This fragmentation created unnecessary expense, provided variable levels of comfort and energy-efficiency, and in general many of the premises did not meet the strategic and operational needs of PHW.
A decision was taken to reconfigure the organisation, and relocate to one large open plan office Cardiff. We opted for a new mindset when procuring the design and supply of office furniture, equipment, flooring and sought suppliers who were able to reuse as much of the existing items as possible.
PHW grouped all the desired outcomes of this office relocation under the Our Space Programme, which sought to uphold three principles when designing a new working environment: fitness for purpose, sustainable development and value for money. The cost of the contract was £400,000. The Our Space Programme was characterised by high levels of staff engagement. Staff needs were surveyed, problems were identified, and criteria were developed to assess new premises.
Events were also held to keep staff informed. Design specifications were developed to guide bidders in meeting PHW key needs i.e. an office design which meets their workspace requirements, and which is furnished using as much existing furniture as possible. The design brief set out various ways in which the activities of the successful contractor could promote sustainability. These included:
Packaging: Suppliers were required to minimise packaging as far as possible and provide examples of how items would be shipped.
Timber: A preference for reused furniture was clearly stated, however, where new timber and wood derived products for supply or use in the performance of the contract were necessary, it was specified that materials must come from a verifiably legal and sustainable source.
Chemicals: The supplier was required to specify items which have coatings and whether these utilised hazardous chemicals, environmentally preferable products, or environmentally considerate lubricants.
End -of-life: PHW was clear that it was seeking products which can be refurbished and recycled. However, in cases where items cannot be reused, PHW required that the supplier will collect and dispose of surplus furniture at the end of life.
Community benefits: As well as environmental benefits, PHW were keen to achieve social benefits in this tender. As such, the tender specification stated that the successful contractor would be expected to consider opportunities to recruit and train workers who belong to ‘disadvantaged’ worker groups.
The successful contract was also expected to work to open up opportunities for SMEs, including social enterprises, to bid for supply chain opportunities arising from the contract. The tender stated that the successful contractor will be encouraged to secure other positive outcomes that would benefit the community they operate within, for example, working with local schools and colleges, contributing to community regeneration schemes, and contributing to community environmental initiatives. Award criteria were based on a 60% weighting for quality and a 40% weighting for price. An EvaluationTeam (consisting of 12 members) was established to score the bids.
Of the 2,563 items:
o 45% of items were re-used;
o 49% of items were remanufactured; and
o only 6% of items were sourced from new stock
In total, around 41 tonnes of waste were diverted from landfill, and the project saved around 134 tonnes of CO2e based on:
o the re-use of 729 office/meeting room desks (saving 50.04 tonnes of CO2e)
o the re-use of 979 office/meeting room chairs (saving 57.70 tonnes of CO2e)
o the re-use of 522 office pedestals (saving 20.67 tonnes of CO2e)
o 670sqm of re-used carpet tiles (saving 5.7 tonnes of CO2e)
As a direct result PHW is working with the Welsh Government to explore how to embed this innovative approach across public sector procurement of office furniture in Wales. We have since replicated this approach with two other office relocation projects in Wales. Dialogue and communication was essential to the success of the process.
Some staff were resistant to the change in location. By making the social, economic and environmental benefits of this change visible, and using the re-design to address existing problems identified in staff engagement, it was possible toincrease staff buy-in. Feedback from post-occupancy evaluation is very positive.