The concept of sustainability is influencing new work models in diverse ways as companies and employees increasingly value environmentally conscious, socially responsible, and economically sustainable work practices. The trend towards remote work and flexible working hours contributes to reducing the need for daily commutes to work. At the same time, coworking spaces and shared offices promote more efficient resource utilization, as multiple companies or individuals can share these facilities. This enables optimized energy and office space usage and can even cut costs for companies.

However, it’s important to emphasize that sustainability doesn’t only concern environmental aspects but also encompasses social factors. More and more companies are embracing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social responsibility by engaging in societal and employee-related matters. The responsibility for the well-being of the community is being increasingly seen as an integral part of sustainable work practices. This is reflected and certified in numerous ESG aspects (Environmental, Social, and Governance). Fulfilling these ESG aspects for small and medium-sized enterprises is crucial to enhance their long-term competitiveness and ensure sustainable growth. This is a gradual process that requires a long-term vision.

The Role of Existing Buildings

Existing buildings are a significant component of ESG reports, as they have a substantial impact on the sustainability performance and social engagement of a company. Implementing tangible guidelines that strengthen ESG values has become a standard practice for developers, whether it’s about new construction, modernisation, or renovation. However, considering ESG criteria within their own office spaces also significantly contributes to creating a healthy, sustainable, and socially responsible work environment that promotes the well-being and productivity of employees. This involves planning, implementation, and evaluation of various aspects that demand a broad spectrum of expertise.

Urbanisation is advancing, and cities are becoming smarter. Through the integration of information technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and other technologies, Smart Cities aim to be more efficient, resourceefficient, and liveable. Alongside the continually evolving new work models and corporate visions, the demands on existing buildings are increasing. Comprehensive planning by experienced specialists plays a crucial role in the successful implementation of ESG in built environments. It’s about aligning ecological, social, and economic aspects and creating long-term value. By closely collaborating with relevant partners, architects can develop sustainable and socially responsible solutions that meet the needs of users and the ESG goals of the company.

The Implementation of New Concepts

Sustainability in construction should not be limited to eco-friendly and energy-efficient construction or renovation. Tucher Consulting Engineers enthusiastically supports the planning and implementation of innovative residential and work concepts that play an increasingly important role. An example of this is the boarding house concept in the context of sustainability in large cities. This is a relatively new—or rather, reinvented—housing and accommodation option that aims to integrate sustainable principles regarding living and resource utilisation. Boarding houses offer furnished apartments for short- to medium-term stays. They target commuters, business travellers, students, or other individuals temporarily living or working in the city. This concept offers various ways to promote sustainability in urban environments. For example, by efficiently using available space in large cities by housing multiple living or working areas within a building complex, more sustainable urban growth is enabled. The concept adapts to the changing needs and life situations of residents. This can help make more efficient use of living space and reduce vacancies.

Due to the central location of boarding houses, residents can shorten their daily commute times and reduce the need for individual transportation, promoting environmentally friendly mobility. Furthermore, modern boarding houses are often equipped with eco-friendly technologies and sustainable materials. All of this contributes to minimising energy and water consumption and reducing CO2 emissions. Overall, the boarding house concept can make a positive contribution to sustainability in large cities. However, when implementing boarding houses as a sustainable concept, some challenges need to be considered. These include ensuring high construction quality and energy efficiency, taking into account the needs of the neighbourhood, and integrating the concept into urban infrastructure planning. The implementation of the boarding house concept requires comprehensive planning and collaboration with local authorities to ensure that ecological, social, and economic aspects are considered.

Equivalent to the work environment, the coworking concept aims to cater to different needs and requirements to adapt to a changing work world. Transforming a traditional office into a coworking space requires careful planning and a clear vision for the concept. However, when executed well, a coworking space can create an attractive and dynamic work environment that serves as a valuable option for both solo entrepreneurs and companies.

T h e R es p on s e o f U r b a n Development

The impact of new work models on our surroundings extends far beyond the building structure. The mobility of the workforce is accelerating suburbanisation, causing people and economic activities to move from urban centres to surrounding suburbs. While suburbanisation can have some positive aspects, there are also negative consequences. These include traffic jams, longer commute times with correspondingly higher CO2 emissions, vacant spaces in urban centres, and the loss of biodiversity due to the conversion of agricultural areas and natural spaces into residential and commercial zones.

To counteract these issues, concepts like Smart Village and Smart Suburb are gaining traction. They combine sustainable urban planning, intelligent transportation systems, and digital services to create attractive living spaces that offer a balance between urban conveniences and rural tranquillity. Mobile work is closely connected to the concepts of Smart Village and Smart Suburb, as it enables people to live outside overcrowded urban centres while still being professionally active. The combination of these trends could help mitigate the effects of suburbanisation, as Smart Village and suburb residents have the opportunity to work in their hometowns without commuting to the city. Bavaria is pursuing the Smart Village concept to enhance the quality of life in rural areas and increase their attractiveness for residents and businesses. Small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from this approach and utilize the advantages of an intelligent, sustainable, and appealing work environment.

Transformation towards Smart Villages

ESG-oriented changes in land-based building use can minimize vacancies and promote the diversification of economic activities, contributing to reducing dependence on individual sectors and creating long-term stability. However, this should be designed in a way that respects and protects the natural environment and ecosystem. Ecological building and energy concepts can be employed to reduce energy and resource consumption and utilize renewable energy sources. Successful changes in land use with ESG aspects require comprehensive planning and expertise from professionals in architecture, engineering, urban planning, and others. Collaboration with local authorities and communities is also crucial to ensuring sustainable acceptance and implementation of the project.

Like younger housing concepts, such as the boarding house, addressing the housing situation in large cities, innovative social offerings open up new possibilities for rural areas. An example of this is the “workcation” concept (a combination of “work” and “vacation”). It’s gaining increasing recognition and popularity. The idea is for people to combine work with a vacation by working in an attractive location away from their usual workplace. They often choose rural areas that are known as vacation destinations. This work model has significant implications for the development of Smart Villages.

Workcation can have positive effects on ESG-oriented companies. Besides the evident advantage that companies promoting workcation as a sustainable work model position themselves as attractive employers for environmentally conscious and socially engaged employees, it can increase employee retention and satisfaction, positively impacting performance and productivity. The company can also benefit from flexible resource management, for example, by avoiding challenging holiday bottlenecks. Although workcation offers a way for Smart Villages to promote their development, a balanced approach is essential. Smart Villages should ensure that workcation doesn’t lead to excessive tourist pressure that harms the local ecosystem or negatively affects the quality of life for locals. It’s important to integrate workcation into a comprehensive strategy for sustainable development and economic growth to maximise long-term benefits.

Regarding the development and practical realisation of ESG strategies in the construction sector, Tucher Consulting Engineers have been active since 2004.