A new tenant is moving in, so it’s in with the new and out with the old. And it’s not just the tenant we’re talking about – the office fittings are most likely going the same way.
More often than not they’ll end up in landfill at great expense to all involved, not to mention the environment. Oh, and our health, if there are any undesirable substances in the fittings that might leach into the soil, air and water.
And it won’t happen just once with a new tenancy, but possibly three times.
Known as the “triple waste effect”, this phenomenon is mind boggling for its sheer wastefulness. It goes something like this: a tenant is moving out of a commercial building so, in keeping with their lease and its “make good” clause, they return the building to a similar state to when they moved in. This means stripping out the fittings they put in and putting in ones of the same standard the landlord had installed.
Then the landlord takes a look and decides it all looks a bit jaded so will strip out all the fittings, put in new carpet, ceilings and paintwork. Along comes the new tenant and decides it is not at all suitable for their corporate image and strips it all out to start again.
Sound like a bad comedy routine?
We might be a lot more aware of the materials we put into our buildings these days, and there is a lot of talk about recycling and re-use of furniture and fittings, but we have a long way to go before these principles are widespread.
Those at the re-fit coalface say it’s way past time for this to change. The fact is the materials we spend our working days surrounded by have a big impact on our health and productivity. They also contain a lot of embedded energy and should not end up in landfill after a few short years of use.
This latest chapter in The Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness is a massive wake up call to the myth that all things new and shiny are good. It lifts the veil on one of the true scandals of the property world – one of waste and landfill, leaving a trail of toxic chemicals, expense and depleted resources in its wake.
Meet the people who want to bring a cool rational eye to this process and reinvent it to make sense, in better materials, recycling, better leasing practices and lower costs. All those things that add up to sustainable practice. Welcome to Chapter 7 of the Happiness book, Material Change.