Furbish: A tailor made approach for healthier and energy efficient offices
Most certification systems focus on energy efficiency and low carbon buildings. Therefore, owners invest in energy efficiency measurements and neglect the users’ needs and organisational cultural particularities. However, as employees spend a major part of their working lives inside offices, there is a real need for an approach grounded on human needs, taking care of socioeconomic as well as environmental impact.
The demand for a service such as what Furbish offers is therefore basically two-fold, including the owner and the user: it combines carbon reduction goals with staff wellbeing and retention, bringing down employee sick leave and strengthening employee productivity.
““We believe in Furbish because of the way they incorporate their solid qualitative usage analysis with innovative building solutions and systems to create a completely customized work environment.””Zeno Winkels, Business Developer Climate-KIC BTA
Furbish accelerates a greater share of extensive and nearly zero energy building renovations along with optimized space to occupants’ needs and behaviour. Furbish works with both existing and new-built offices and offers a new paradigm of user-oriented, lower carbon footprint and resilient office design solutions to create the next generation smart sustainable offices.
Often the costs for the office building and employee sick leave are seen as two completely separate posts. Furbish however, argues – based on empirical analysis – that employee sickness goes down substantially when people work in a healthy, comfortable and well-fitted office. Companies are becoming more and more aware of this and start to realise that buildings, the environment and people’s health are much more interlinked for them, both practically as well as financially.
Furbish has a history of close cooperation between research and business. Years of research have been conducted in order to develop a model that has led to the launch of Furbish as a start-up, commercialising the findings and results. A clear link with business has always been a priority throughout the years, as the private industry covers one of the main client segments of Furbish and is vital to create substantial impact in office environments.
What makes Furbish so valuable is that it offers a holistic approach. It makes it possible for organisations to effectively improve the physical surroundings in order to lower energy consumption and carbon reductions, reducing their environmental impact, as well as improve employee health, comfort and general wellbeing.
““World Office Forum (WOF) finds the SSO approach to sustainability in offices completely in line with users’ needs […] WOF fully supports SSO in terms of dissemination, knowledge and best practices for office users “and owners.””Jorge Zanoletty Larrea, President of World Office Forum
The role of EIT Climate-KIC
The EIT Climate-KIC’s flagship programme Building Technologies Accelerator (BTA)’s start-up Furbish was launched to the market on 23 March 2017. The origins of Furbish lie with Smart Sustainable Offices (SSO), a project that started under BTA. SSO is a pan-European cooperation between partners from and with strong links to industry and academia: Chalmers University of Technology, Valencia Institute of Building (IVE), CIES Living Lab and BTA.
It is because of the international EIT Climate-KIC network that this consortium of partners spanning a wide geographical reach has been able to successfully work in this project.
Beyond funding, EIT Climate-KIC BTA has strengthened Furbish through intensive business support in the form of a dedicated business developer, providing expertise, a network that allowed working with other international partners and offering communications support. Also, the unique BTA Living Lab network has contributed through the Spanish CIES Living Lab near Valencia and BTA has worked closely together with different departments of EIT Climate-KIC, including the Benelux, Switzerland, Nordics, Spain and EIT Climate-KIC Central.
“‘’BTA helps us on many levels, the first being Public Relationships. This is key for us and we appreciate their assistance in that field. Second, even though Ulrike and I are academics, we are used to running a business, but BTA’s support on that regard has been very helpful. With them we walked the path from innovation to a demonstration project. BTA also offers a lot of business and partnership opportunities, encounters with other “players” of the sector across Europe.’’”Dr. Holger Wallbaum, Furbish
Published 24 June 2018
Building Technologies Accelerator (BTA) is a programme by EIT Climate-KIC: the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy.