How to design a sustainable office fit out

Are you looking to make your office sustainable and eco-friendly? Trying to reduce the carbon footprint of your business without impacting on functionality and style?  

Here we look at the best ways to design a sustainable office fit out that works for both you and the environment.

Assess Your Current Office

Before you can begin creating an eco-office, it’s important to know what you’re starting with.  Look at everything in your current office – from the desks, chairs, carpets, lighting, waste bins, recycling facilities right through to heating systems or air conditioning units.  

If you have any electrical equipment that runs throughout the night it’s necessary to get it assessed by an energy assessor. By doing so, you can begin to understand where more sustainable practices need to be incorporated. 

Office lighting 

It’s worth taking some time when considering how to design a sustainable office fit out that reduces energy consumption with lighting.  

When planning the lighting system in a sustainable office fit out, consider not just the quantity of light needed, but also its quality. Natural daylight ensures we don’t need to turn on artificial lights during the day, and studies show that it has a positive effect on productivity and mood.

Other ways of regulating lighting are through dimming controls and motion detection systems which can be set to monitor the use of lighting in the building at different times of the day. 

Eco-Friendly Flooring 

Flooring is one of the biggest factors to take into consideration when it comes to designing a sustainable office first out. Eco-friendly flooring falls under mainly two categories – reclaimed flooring and flooring made of sustainable materials, such as wood, cork, and 100% recycled plastic. 

Carpet is also a popular choice for flooring in office environments as it’s hard-wearing and durable. Most businesses install carpet tiles to replace one section of flooring instead of the whole area which makes it more cost-effective, with minimal disruption. 

The Desk Environment

Your desk environment is central to your employees’ wellbeing. You may not even realise how much damage your current desk is doing to your health, until you make the switch to an ergonomically-friendly desk.

When considering how to design a sustainable office fit out, go for adjustable height desks. They allow you to work at eye level which will stop you hunching your shoulders, and straining your neck and back. Invest in some office lighting at knee level too to ensure it’s easy to read documents on your computer screen without having to lean forward. 

A Healthy Office

Employee health is an essential part of how to design a sustainable office fit out and often, it’s overlooked in the workplace.  If you’re not sure where to start on an office that promotes healthy employees and high productivity levels – there are some simple ways to get started: 

  • Clean air quality
  • Ergonomic furniture 
  • Easy access to fresh organic food 
  • Bicycle racks for those who wish to cycle into work to encourage improved fitness levels and improved blood flow too 
  • Central recycling bins around the office for waste and re-use

Finishing Touches

When designing a sustainable office fit out there are often small details overlooked which can have a big impact on the overall eco-friendliness of your new office. 

Before signing off on your project or allowing any furniture or appliances into your business it’s vital to consider exactly what hazardous chemicals they may be emitting. Chemicals found in PVC plastic for example have been linked to respiratory diseases and cancer, so ensure that this is not used when designing a sustainable office fit out. 

In recent times, more and more office furniture manufacturers have been working hard to meet greener standards which is great news for the environment!

Hire a professional office fit out contractor

If you’re looking for an experienced commercial fit out company who can provide you with all the advice you need when considering how to design a sustainable office fit out – contact hebs today on 0151 2360707. 

Our highly trained and experienced staff are capable of delivering complex and challenging commercial refurbishment or fit-out to suit any business. We work closely with you in order to make sure the new office space is a healthy and dynamic working environment. 



The difference between preventative and reactive maintenance

 

In facilities management, maintenance is an essential component of keeping equipment and assets fully functional for as long as possible. 

Having a well-thought out strategy when problems arise is vital as many maintenance processes will have an impact on time and overall productivity of a business. 

But have you ever wondered what the difference is between preventative and reactive maintenance? 

In this article, we will be distinguishing the two types of maintenance to help you gain a better understanding of what’s involved, and decide which one is the most beneficial to you and your project. 

Preventative Maintenance 

Preventative building maintenance (PM) is the act of performing certain tasks before something goes wrong, and needs to be done often enough to prevent failure from occurring. 

This method is proven to be more cost-effective and more manageable for teams to effectively organise and predict the likelihood of a breakdown; using real-time measurements and historical data.

Typically, preventative maintenance works to expand the lifespan of a company’s assets, equipment and infrastructure, ensuring organisations remain proactive and minimize disruption. 

Preventative maintenance includes cleaning parts of a building or machine that are easy to access, checking equipment for signs of damage, replacing worn equipment, repairing minor damage, and checking fuses and batteries in devices like emergency exit lighting systems.

Reactive Maintenance 

Reactive building or machine maintenance is typically performed when there has been some kind of unexpected issue with a piece of equipment due to negligence. 

This is the main difference between preventative and reactive maintenance. When PM isn’t done on time, or at all, RM is required to fix the equipment on the fly and return it to its full operational capacity. 

It can be a good strategy under the right circumstances, for example, changing a light bulb when it’s finally burnt out (run-to-fail maintenance), improving a squeaky door hinge, emergency maintenance activities in responding to flooding and drainage pipeline issues, or amending a rusted part of equipment.

Unfortunately, it can lead to more expensive repairs and replacements of parts, alongside a delay in services and possibly overwhelm facility management teams when not handled correctly as a result. 

Get in touch 

Make sure your business is running smoothly 24/7 with hebs Group Limited. We offer a fully proven and established maintenance service to our customers, allowing each client to individually select which service is appropriate for their ongoing needs.

Contact us now on 0151 2360707 or drop us an email to info@hebs-group.co.uk we’ll be happy to help with any enquiries. 

 

Signs of a collapsed drain

If you have an issue with your drainage system, it can cause a lot of disruption to a building’s foundations and interiors which may become a hazard to human health as a result. 

A collapsed drain is arguably one of the more severe cases, whereby the underground pipes have undergone so much pressure and wear and tear over time, that they have started to fall apart or cave in. 

This requires immediate action once the matter is identified, and it’s important to know the common signs of a collapsed drain to help minimise damage and the cost of fixing them. 

The causes of a collapsed drain 

There are many causes of a collapsed drain, including:

  • Ground movement – Pressure from the ground above an area of pipework can crush and collapse drains 
  • Tree roots – A natural occurrence where tree roots grow in the location of your drainage system and invade the pipes 
  • Poor maintenance – If your drainage or sewer system has been neglected and left to disintegrate then they’ll fail to flow general waste and water properly. 

One of the main reasons behind a collapsed drain is being blissfully unaware of the problem in the first place. You won’t know for sure, unless regular maintenance and checks are carried out by professional drainage contractors like hebs Flowtech on an annual or quarterly basis. 

So, here are some of the warning signs of a collapsed drain to look out for. 

Strong sewage smell

Although you may not be able to see your drainage system, you will definitely smell the foul odour emanating from the ground, in the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, or the drains around the exterior of your property. 

This could be a sign of backed-up waste water or leaking sewage, so it’s worthwhile getting a drainage survey to conduct a thorough inspection before the issue gets worse. 

Damp 

Furthermore, if a drain has collapsed, then the flow of water will be heavily affected. 

Damp patches and mould can be found on the walls or flooring, creating an unhealthy environment for people and possibly cause life-threatening infections and respiratory conditions.

Structural damage 

In extreme circumstances, a collapsed drain can damage the structure of your commercial or domestic building. Cracks in the walls are caused by constant water seeping into the foundations and undermining its structural integrity.

Not only will the drainage need to be fixed but the building itself, which can become very costly in the long-run which is why contacting a drainage company to assess the situation is the best call to action. 

Slow drainage

Finally, slow running drains can be a major indicator of a collapsed drain, and more than often a blockage of some kind is involved. But if the issue persists and water is still taking its time to drain, the pipes could have collapsed. 

Get in touch 

hebs Flowtech are on hand 24/7 to help you with any pipeline, drainage or sewer related emergency, including a collapsed drainage system. Contact us now on 0151 2360707 and we’ll be happy to help with any enquiries.

 

The benefits of commercial sewer and drainage maintenance

If you own a commercial building, you will want to ensure that your sewer and drain pipes are maintained to prevent any serious issues that could affect business operations. 

Places that work within the food, retail, or healthcare industry need to have a reliable drainage system, especially if it concerns public welfare and safety. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the many benefits of commercial sewer and drainage maintenance and why it is important to keep your pipes flowing as smoothly as possible. 

Preventing blockages

An excess of grease, organic waste, oils and other miscellaneous objects can lead to drain blockages, particularly in the pipework of bathrooms and kitchens on your commercial premises. 

If pipes become clogged, this hinders the flow of wastewater to the disposal site which causes further hindrances to the use of toilets or sinks, with a foul smelling odour emitting from the blocked drains as a result. 

You’ll want to address the issue immediately, and frequent commercial sewer and drainage maintenance guarantees that your property’s pipes remain clear and free even during peak times. 

Avoid pipe issues 

Owners of commercial buildings are responsible for the maintenance of their drains and plumbing fixtures, which must be checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Over time, the pressure from a buildup of minerals or waste puts stress on the pipes, leading to breakages and leaks. 

If a pipe bursts or leaks, especially into another site or nearby building, you could be facing a hefty fine for property damage, or in the worst case scenario, closure from the local health department until the issue has been dealt with. 

Protection against biohazards 

Furthermore, commercial sewer and drainage maintenance helps protect your employees and customers from getting severely sick from exposure to biohazards. 

Blocked or damaged drain pipes can cause widespread flooding, plumbing problems, and allow septic water to enter your building, making it unsafe for people to work, dine, or shop. 

Here at hebs, our dedicated reactive teams are equipped with the latest high pressure water jetting rigs to clean, unblock and descale any pipeline or sewer system in case of a drainage emergency on your commercial premises. 

Reducing expenses

This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of routine commercial sewer and drainage maintenance as it can save time and money on repairs, sanitising contaminated areas, and possibly on new flooring or carpet. 

Adopting a quarterly or annual maintenance regime will help to eliminate these costs and protect your business from any stubborn blockages in the long-term. 

For more information about our commercial maintenance services, contact hebs at info@hebs-group.co.uk or call us on 0151 236 0707 where we aim to keep your sewer or drainage system fully functional all year round.

The importance of drain mapping

Before planning or undertaking any construction project, whether that be performing some kind of excavation, or new extension, it is vital to identify the drainage system in the surrounding area. 

As these run underground, it is difficult to know exactly where existing drains are positioned and in order to gain planning permission, as well as avoid costly mistakes, drain mapping is a key.

What is drain mapping? 

Drain mapping, or asset mapping, is the process of verifying the layout of drains and sewers beneath a property or area of land, including the location of existing foul water networks, manholes and gullies. 

By using cutting-edge GPS data and technologies such as Radio detection scanning and CCTV cameras, this allows us to gather useful information on the size, depth, and directional flow of pipes within the system to produce a detailed site map. 

The main features of a drain mapping survey include: 

  • A site map with a schematic diagram of the drainage system
  • A complete asset list detailing the location, size, manhole access points and use of each drain section
  • The connectivity of all site drainage 
  • A list of recommendations for remedial action to resolve any drainage problems 

Why is it important? 

Drain mapping is a key part of a drainage survey, especially for builders and architects who can use drain maps to visualise the entire network when planning for renovations, driveways or even roofing projects in case new gutters are required. 

Another reason is to safeguard against damage to pre-existing systems that may become more costly to repair down the line. Any cracks, leaks or root intrusions can be discovered and dealt with immediately, making repair work more efficient. Drain mapping is also important for flood risk management and pollution prevention. 

Plus, older properties may have an inaccurate chart of it’s drainage, therefore drainage mapping helps site managers and engineers make an informed decision on whether it needs an alteration or upgrade.

Find out more 

Hebs Flowtech are on hand 24/7 to help you with any pipeline, drainage or sewer related emergency. Contact our experienced maintenance team now on 0151 2360707 and we’ll be happy to help with any enquiries.

The importance of environmental due diligence in construction

There are many reasons to prioritise environmental due diligence in construction, ranging from a desire to protect the environment, through to some directly business-related impacts on costs and finance.

In this article we’ll look at some of the main elements of environmental due diligence in construction projects, and why they are so important to the successful delivery of the work.

 

Why does environmental due diligence matter?

‘Due diligence’ is about meeting your obligations and responsibilities, and reducing avoidable risks. This has benefits for the environment, your business and the specific project at hand.

 

Help the environment

Major construction inevitably leads to upheaval for the landscape, wildlife, plant life and local ecosystems.

Environmental due diligence allows you to identify protected species so they can be relocated, and to minimise negative effects on important habitats.

 

Protect your business

Carrying out environmental audits gives you information you can publish to show stakeholders and members of the public that you take your responsibilities seriously.

This is good practice in any case, but can reflect well on stakeholders and protect your brand reputation in the event of an environmental incident on a job.

 

Deliver projects

Ultimately, environmental due diligence is a way to keep individual projects on track. No interruptions or delays due to discovering a newt on-site, for example.

This has direct cost implications – by keeping projects on schedule and on budget, and by avoiding the risk of fines and financial penalties for disturbing protected habitats and species.

 

What environmental risks to look for

Some hazardous materials are a threat to human life and health, as well as to the environment, so it is doubly important to assess their presence and prevalence.

Examples include:

  • Asbestos
  • Hydraulic fluids
  • Lead paint
  • Mercury
  • Other known contaminants

In addition to these, your environmental due diligence should also consider the impact of construction on the natural environment, both during and after the work is completed.

Things to put on your checklist here include:

  • Archaeological significance
  • Endangered species
  • Presence of mould
  • Rainwater drainage
  • Wetland habitats

A comprehensive environmental audit can take all of these different factors into account, to create a complete picture of the impact your work will have, and mitigate any avoidable environmental risks.

 

Find out more


To get help with your environmental due diligence on construction projects in the pipeline, contact hebs Group today on 0151 2360707 and a member of our team will be happy to discuss your needs with you.

Maintain your commercial HVAC system for summer

The recent hot weather has made it even more important that you put your commercial HVAC system through its annual summer check-up.

With a few simple steps, you can keep your commercial air conditioning maintenance under control and avoid a costly – and uncomfortable – breakdown on a hot summer day.

Here are five ways to keep commercial HVAC systems running efficiently through the summer, and reduce the risk of a breakdown.

 

1. Clean vents and ducts

It’s important not to neglect your ducts, as well as the air vents on your HVAC systems themselves as this is how cool air is delivered around your premises.

Clean, dry ducts reduce the risk of airborne pathogens like Legionella, so should be a part of your regular cleaning schedule for health and safety reasons.

You can also reduce dust and other particles like pollen, which can help to prevent allergies from flaring up among your employees.

 

2. Clean filters

Air conditioning filters get clogged with dust over time, affecting the efficiency of air flow, preventing cold air from being released, and triggering allergies in the room.

Cleaning your HVAC filters should again be a regular part of your planned maintenance, but double checking them during the summer months, relieves the strain on your air conditioning compressors.

 

3. Condenser maintenance

If you have a permanent ducted HVAC system, it’s likely you have a condenser unit somewhere on your exterior wall.

Routine maintenance can keep this crucial piece of equipment running well, so that the heat removed from your interior can be released outside efficiently.

 

4. Check capacity

A commercial HVAC system is designed to work in a room of a certain size, which is why the operating manual often advises you to keep doors and windows closed when your air conditioning is turned on.

But commercial premises can be reconfigured quite easily, by taking down a partition wall or putting up new cubicle dividers.

If you’ve made any changes over the past 12 months – especially new physical divisions and barriers as part of COVID-secure precautions – check if your HVAC systems can cope with your new floor plan.

 

5. Adjust the settings

Last but not least, make sure the settings on your control panels are at a sensible position. It’s not sensible to try to cool a room to 5C when it’s 30C outside, and it puts unreasonable strain on your air conditioning compressors.

Set your target temperature at a sensible intermediate value and, once you hit that, then you can consider adjusting it further if you’re still too warm.


For more information about our HVAC maintenance service, contact hebs at info@hebs-group.co.uk or call us on 0151 236 0707 and we will be happy to help.

Cybersecurity risks for smart buildings

An ever-increasing number of the utilities and facilities installed in commercial buildings, as well as some residences, are connected via the Internet of Things.

A common residential example of this is the use of smart electricity meters, which not only monitor your electricity use, but can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app to turn appliances on and off when you are not home.

In a commercial setting, similar automation can control HVAC systems, as well as ensuring lights are turned off when the last person leaves the building.

But increased connectivity – especially via the internet – also brings with it increased cybersecurity risks.

Here are some of the top risks to watch out for, as well as some sensible steps you can take to protect your premises against would-be hackers and attackers.

 

All-network attacks

Your business may have multiple networks, including a LAN, WAN, public internet connection and Internet of Things (IoT) connection for your appliances.

If these networks cross paths at any point, for example if they run via a single server, router or modem, then they are all vulnerable to external attacks.

For maximum security, any connections with the public internet, including IoT connections, should run on completely separate hardware from business-critical internal networks such as LANs and WANs.

 

Software attacks

One of the other cybersecurity risks is hackers attempting to compromise your networks using software such as spyware, ransomware or a Trojan virus to gain control of computers inside your network firewall.

Make sure you have good policies in place, e.g. to prevent employees from opening unfamiliar and unexpected email attachments.

Back this up with strong sentinel antivirus software, which will patrol your network looking for malicious code and quarantine it before it has a chance to execute.

 

Physical attacks

Smart buildings are at risk from direct physical hacks, if a malicious individual is able to gain access to your premises.

Implement good access control at all external doors, and install alarms on any windows accessible from ground level.

When you need maintenance on smart building systems, always work with a reputable maintenance provider such as hebs Group, who you know you can trust.

 

Get in touch

The hebs Group team is here to help by keeping your smart building systems well maintained and up to date, so that you do not expose them to avoidable security risks.

To make an enquiry about smart building maintenance and cybersecurity, contact hebs on info@hebs-group.co.uk or call our engineers on 0151 236 0707 to find out more about any of our services.

What are the main design management risks in construction?

Design management risks should be factored into project delivery from the outset, to keep construction on schedule and on budget, and to avoid any health and safety risks.

Some elements of design management risk are mandatory for regulatory and compliance purposes, while others are a means to protect investment and ensure the success of the project.

In general, design risk management (DRM) spans three main areas of activity:

  • Design and preparation by the design team and contractors
  • Health and safety throughout the duration of the project
  • Risk management in tenders and pricing

The end goal is to manage risks that may arise not only during the construction phase, but also due to changes in the design and during subsequent use and maintenance of the building.

 

Common risks in construction design management

There are several common areas of risk in construction design management. Some of these are specifically design-related, while others are general problems that might arise on any kind of project.

  • Errors and omissions in the design
  • Delays and missed deadlines during delivery
  • Last-minute changes (including requests from stakeholders)
  • Failure to deliver according to contract
  • Scheduling errors and third-party subcontractor delays

Some common risks arise externally, but should still be anticipated and mitigated as far as reasonably possible, for example:

  • Environmental risk, impact and analysis
  • Public objections and changes in local laws
  • Organisational risks (staff absence, employee turnover)
  • Project management risks and personnel conflict
  • Excess costs and changes in technology

Identifying all the relevant risks that apply to the design of your project, and to the successful delivery of that design, can allow you to manage your exposure to avoidable delays and financial losses.

 

How to mitigate design management risks

A four-step framework is usually applied to identify and mitigate design risks:

  1. Identify risks, working collaboratively with stakeholders and subcontractors across all areas of the project planning and design.
  2. Assess risks on a sliding scale, to estimate potential impacts and to rank the areas of highest priority.
  3. Mitigate risks by developing plans to reduce the chance of incidents occurring and to react to them quickly if they do.
  4. Monitor risks to identify emerging incidents and prevent them from escalating where possible.

Effective project management and design risk management should not be considered a luxury or an additional investment, as it is critical to confident delivery of construction work.

To benefit from hebs Group’s DRM expertise and risk mitigation strategies, contact us today on 0151 236 0707 or info@hebs-group.co.uk.

4 key Facilities Management strategies

Facilities Management naturally involves an element of strategy, for example when scheduling planned maintenance, but by going beyond this you can optimise the outcomes for your organisation.

In 2020, RICS ran an article headed “Introducing Strategic Facilities Management” and outlining several potential approaches to Strategic FM.

Here’s our own pick of four key Facilities Management strategies for 2021 and beyond.

 

Everything Available

Your Facilities Management strategies should look beyond the operational aspects of building maintenance and take a more holistic view of the availability of assets over their complete life span.

For example, Facilities Managers may want to look at assets like heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting, and ask how to ensure those essential services and utilities are always accessible to the occupants of the premises.

In this sense, Strategic Facilities Management is concurrent with business continuity planning, where continuity depends on the successful functioning of specific facilities.

 

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Building Information Modelling, sometimes called Building Information Management, brings together modern trends including computer-aided Facilities Management (CAFM), automation and IT to understand how to strategically deliver FM in the building.

Incorporating BIM into CAFM makes sense, as the two platforms share much of the same information and can streamline the management of assets.

As yet, many organisations have yet to fully achieve this, making it a good prospect to gain a competitive advantage, or to achieve significant efficiency gains that have not yet been made in full or even in part.

 

Soft Landings

Involving FM from day zero on a new commercial property build and fit out can anticipate future problems with assets and resolve them before they occur.

This can mean paying extra fees upfront for Facilities Managers to start working earlier in the project pipeline, but the long-term return on investment more than makes the business case for doing so.

For the successful future of this trend, FMs need to be involved and their opinions given equal weight, so that if they raise any concerns, appropriate efforts are taken to act on their insights and minimise avoidable future maintenance demands.

 

Harmonic Environments

Finally, Strategic FM can focus on health and happiness to maximise productivity by creating harmonic working environments for the human workforce.

This can be achieved by ensuring the assets and facilities in the building meet the needs of the occupants, while ensuring their continued comfort at all times.

In this way, Strategic FM can bridge the gap between the building fabric and the human capital of the workforce within, to deliver even greater productivity and efficiency gains overall.

To find out more about our facilities management services, email info@hebs-group.co.uk or call our team on 0151 236 0707.