WeWork sustainable occupancy
WeWork's 345 Bourke St Melbourne office

New York-based co-working giant WeWork continues its infiltration into Australia’s sustainable office buildings with a 12-year lease for four floors of 222 Exhibition Street, a mixed-use retail and commercial tower in Melbourne’s CBD.

222 Exhibition Street is equipped with a predictive maintenance system and an “offensive” approach to building maintenance that detects issues before they arise.

Situated on the border of Melbourne’s Theatre and Chinatown districts, the building is close to cafes, restaurants, childcare and other key services. The building recently installed end-of-trip facilities and bike storage units, and has direct access to bike paths. Office spaces are column-free and optimised for natural-light and space efficiency.

The company will occupy 5250 square metres of the building, including a 1228-square-metre outdoor terrace area.

The fast-growing co-working space operators have also recently emerged as sole occupant of Lendlease’s latest timber building, Daramu House at South Barangaroo.

The ultra-sustainable engineered timber Daramu House also has solar PV and rooftop planting to capture rain.

Despite WeWork’s efforts to secure tenancies in environmentally friendly buildings, co-working office spaces can actually make meeting sustainability requirements more difficult because it’s hard to predict when workers will come and go.

“If this information is understood then it is straightforward to optimise the building plant and equipment (heating and cooling) set-up,” EVORA founder and director Paul Sutcliffe told All Work.

The flexibility needed to run a co-working space, with 24-hour access and use, can lead to higher energy consumption and costs.

“All inclusive licence costs to building users also disguise the cost impact of energy to the end user, so sustainability impacts and associated costs can often be hidden. However, this provides a great opportunity to operators of co-working/flexible work buildings to work on their margins through optimising building operation efficiency.”

Mr Sutcliffe said that engaging all stakeholders – landlords, operators and users – is key to ensuring co-working workspaces keep a low environmental footprint.

WeWork is also big on its corporate values, recently making waves with an announcement that it would no longer subsidise or pay back the cost of staff meals that included meat, nor would poultry, pork or red meat be served at company-organised events.

The decision was largely driven by environmental and, to a lesser extent, ethical concerns: “New new research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact,” WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey said.

WeWork will have six open locations in Australia as of 1 August.

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