Viewpoint – Dutch Office Technology Leading the Wellbeing Revolution
Our Head of Continental Europe, Lisa Amin, shares her thoughts on Dutch offices and how they are leading the way in healthier more sustainable workspaces.
We believe it is still too early to be certain about the long-term impact COVID-19 will have on the office sector and work behaviour; however it seems unlikely the new working from home trends and practices and the adoption of new technology will permanently affect office demand but is likely to accelerate the implementation of vital changes and new trends in the office sector such as developing healthier more sustainable workspaces.
As we learn more about the relationship between our environments and our health, we are now creating spaces that enhance, rather than hinder our health and well-being. We can improve the quality of our air, water and light. We know how to design workspaces that fuel our bodies, keep us moving, cultivate creativity, increase productivity, and facilitate a good night’s sleep.
With the Dutch leading the way on sustainable property with several cutting edge sustainable developments, it is no surprise Holland is a key market for 90 North’s EU office strategy as we see sustainability as an absolute precondition for the long-term development of a successful investment strategy. For many years, Holland has led the world in new innovations and policies that strive to increase sustainability. Through combined efforts in transportation, energy and industry, Holland’s sustainable infrastructure serves to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
Our Dutch office portfolio comprises of properties that have achieved the world’s most recognized assessment systems in this field: LEED and BREEAM certifications for sustainability, and WELL certification for health and wellbeing, thus providing internationally recognised third-party verification that the buildings were designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Additionally, these properties combine sustainability with technology thereby creating smart buildings; another trend we see being critical moving forward with increased automation within properties. A smart building management system in which all devices are connected integrally with each other creates a fully connected and responsive system and leads to a much better understanding of the behaviour of the building and provides real-time insights into the actual usage/consumption and the condition of the building and its facilities. Although the pandemic has highlighted the need for improving air quality and ventilation in buildings, our recent Dutch offices already benefit from climate ceilings, controlled by smart technology, which provides filtered fresh air and help to maintain and optimise the indoor air quality resulting in a cleaner and healthier indoor climate.
We were delighted that our Asics EMEA office HQ in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, was selected as a finalist in the Architizer A+ Awards for the ‘Office Low-Rise’ category. The driving force behind the building design was the Asics brand mission statement: ‘A sound mind in a sound body’. The new HQ redefines the contemporary office as a space where innovation, collaboration, the brand experience and a healthy lifestyle come together.
With the heath and economic impact of the pandemic being intertwined, they have undoubtedly shaken the office sector; however, we believe long-term investment fundamentals remain robust for offices that are characterised by:
- Modern, well specified and sustainable buildings in strong locations with limited supply and good access to public transport;
- Tenants in robust business sectors; and
- A secure income stream (strong tenant covenant with a relatively long term to lease expiry).
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic will highlight the on-going critical importance of sustainability as climate change and limited natural resources mean that the traditional approaches of the property sector need to change radically. The pandemic will accelerate positive changes in the office sector to create future proof buildings that are better equipped to face future pandemics and the climate emergency.