Sustainable fit-out for your university

February 21, 2023

Sustainable fit-out for your university

When it comes to replacing your university furniture, it’s important to think beyond an allocated budget. The new fit-out not only needs to be comfortable and attractive, great for students' well-being and suitable for teaching and learning, it also needs to be sustainable. Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important part of business as a whole, and universities are no exception. UK universities have become more transparent about sustainability, with many publicly reporting their carbon reduction figures, and many committing to become NetZero by 2030 or 2040. 

Why do universities need to worry about sustainable furniture? 

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue to young people. Greta Thunberg may be the global face of climate change activism, but there are plenty of young people around the world who are taking action to try and protect the planet and their future… and their actions are having positive effects. Six young people from Portugal are suing 33 countries for not doing enough to reduce emissions and fight climate change. The European Court of Human Rights has granted their case priority status. 

A recent IBM survey found that 51% of people think environmental sustainability is more important to them than it was a year ago, and 49% have paid a premium for brands branded as sustainable or socially responsible (a jump of 59% on the previous year). 

Teenagers and young people are your university’s target market. When they’re choosing which universities to apply for, the degree course they opt for is clearly important. However, so are many other factors, especially when it comes to sustainability. And with universities now offering degree courses on the theme of sustainability, you really need to be practising what you preach! 

Sustainability doesn’t necessarily need a bigger budget

The good news is when it comes to your new fit-out, you don’t necessarily need to pay a premium. It is likely that there are many elements of your current fit-out that can be recycled and reused as part of the new one, all of which will help your budget go further, enabling you to invest more in quality products. 

Zero to Landfill

Wouldn’t it be great if you could undertake such a huge project like a new fit-out confident that absolutely nothing will be sent to landfill? By repurposing as much of the old fit-out as possible, finding new homes for as much of the old fit-out as possible, and ensuring that everything else - including the packaging the new furniture comes in - is recycled, your university will be closer to its carbon neutral or NetZero targets. 

Getting value for money  

The key principle of sustainability is longevity. When you buy products that are not only sourced sustainably but also built to last, they’ll give you greater value for money in the long run. Work on the principle that you get what you pay for - buying cheap products could save money from your university’s current budget, but there’s a high probability they will wear out years before better-made products. So even though a brand-new, high-quality sustainable product may cost you more upfront, it is far more probable it will last for many more years, giving you greater value for your money as well as being better for the planet. 

Sustainability gives you something to shout about

The great thing about taking steps to become more sustainable is that you’ve got something to talk about on your university’s social media channels. As an example, we replaced 4,000 chairs and 1,000 tables as part of a teaching room furniture fit-out for a London university. In all we collected 5,826 items and sent all of them for materials recycling. With zero waste going into landfill, the university was able to prove that it saved 114 tonnes going to landfill, with a saving of more than 202 carbon tonnes. We also made sure that all the new education furniture we sourced will be 100% recyclable at the end of its working life. If we achieved this for your university, you could use the information to get some great engagement on your social media channels!

How JPA Workspaces can help your university meet its sustainability targets 

We are huge advocates of the circular economy, and our furniture solutions are designed around sustainability, longevity, repairability, reusability and recyclability. We send absolutely nothing to landfill. And through reusing as much as possible for every new fit-out, we have saved our clients a collective £1.8m! We specialise in the Education sector, providing educational furniture and fit-outs on the principles of sustainability and the circular economy. Contact us to find out more and discuss your university’s refurbishment and fit-out needs.

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