20 March 2013 — CBRE’s new Sydney office, within its existing headquarters at 363 George St, will aim to achieve higher than a five star NABERS rating, and offers a range of sustainability features along with a variety of work spaces for staff to choose including work stations, think tanks, quiet rooms and meeting rooms.

Another key offering, the CBRE Bar – known as the CBar – is designed to entice clients to share drinks in-house where they might bump into other CBRE staff who can offer additional services.

The new office space, at 363 George Street, unveiled last week, is the first CBRE office in Australia, and the second of 21 CBRE offices worldwide, to move to an activity based working model.

CBRE Australia and New Zealand president and chief executive officer Tom Southern said the activity based workplace was a broad concept and “one on which every organisation has a differing definition”.

“The design we have selected has a modern, progressive feel that truly reflects our business and our culture as well as providing an interesting take on the traditional corporate space.”

CBRE Pacific sustainability head Rebecca Pearce said in addition to using holistic sustainability principles in the design of the new workplace the firm had also reconsidered many of its operating practices, targeting a reduction in overall carbon emissions including those from business travel, paper and waste.

“We are also aiming to exceed the five star NABERS Energy Tenancy rating achieved in several other CBRE offices and will be sharing performance with staff progressively,” she said.

“Energy efficiency improvements will be achieved through new lighting (with occupancy sensors) to office and client areas and new IT equipment that has been selected and set up for optimal energy savings both inside and outside the office, reflecting our new flexible working arrangements.

“By choosing to remain in 363 George Street we have retained access to the excellent public transport opportunities a central city location brings.

“In addition, our staff has access to cycling and change facilities located in the basement – these are currently being upgraded as an added bonus.

“Our new fit out has been planned to optimise the indoor environmental quality and the 363 George building management team continue to work on improving base building related IEQ measures. All materials, furniture and equipment have been selected to minimise volatile organic compounds.”

Key sustainability outcomes:

  • Paper storage was reduced from 1.3 kilometres of shelving in the old fit-out to 400 metres.
  • The former fit-out and office equipment was recycled where possible, including workstations and furniture donated to Salvo’s Legal and stationery to the UNSW student stationery service as well as charities in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.
  • All materials, furniture and equipment were selected to minimise volatile organic compounds.
  • The 18-seat boardroom table has been manufactured from reused Messmate timber which was reclaimed from the roof of an army warehouse in Albury, NSW.
  • The new workspace has improved recycling facilities to deal with paper, commingled recycling, printer cartridges, plastic bags and waste to landfill.
  • Energy efficiency improvements were achieved through new lighting with occupancy sensors and new IT equipment. Each member of staff was provided a new Dell XPS laptop with energy saving settings.

Design

CBRE partnered with WMK Architecture with director John Andreas saying CBRE’s new workplace went beyond ABW.

“It’s a tailored, real world solution which acknowledges what people actually do in the workplace and delivers a unique environment that combines a sophisticated business approach with a contemporary lifestyle flavour,” he said.

Project management

CBRE used the firm’s project management division to complete the relocation and fit-out on schedule and within budget.

The team combined innovative design, with an accurate understanding of occupancy levels, an enhanced technology platform and considerable behavioural change to consolidate CBRE’s tenancy from five floors across two buildings, to 2600 square metres across level 20 and 21 of 363 George Street.

CBRE project management managing director Jo-Anne Harrison said the consolidation of CBRE’s tenancy was made possible by recognising that at highest occupancy only 65 per cent of staff were at their designated desk.

“Following a comprehensive occupancy review we undertook a series of staff workshops which confirmed that the diverse nature of our business meant our new office needed to include a range of spaces,” Ms Harrison said.

“Due to lease negotiations and development application approvals, construction did not start on site until mid-October 2012 and CBRE needed to relocate over the Christmas break and be fully operation when staff returned in early January 2013. This allowed for less than nine weeks total construction.”

“Despite some initial concerns about moving to an ABW model of working, the change has been well received by staff. Ultimately, we have delivered an open, collaborative environment which provides connectivity and facilitates flexibility.

“We organised our new office in series of neighbourhoods to allow different business lines and our shared services to be easily located. This does not stop staff from moving around the office or exempt anyone from our clean desk policy.”

CBRE’s NSW managing director James Patterson said the main reason for the relocation was “because we genuinely believe it will bring benefits to both our business as a whole and our people as individuals”.

“In the short time we have been in our new workspace we have witnessed a transformation in the way our people work.

“During the course of a day, our people undertake many different activities that require different work settings with various levels of collaboration.”