E.ON prioritizes health and well-being at work

Castellum is developing and building a new WELL certified office building in the Nyhamnen district of Malmö, which will be E.ON’s future Nordic headquarters. “The building will reflect our brand, and be a model of sustainability. For us, it is also important to ensure people’s health and well-being at work, which is why WELL certification ireally appeals to us,” says Linda Palac, Managing Director of E.ON Fastigheter. Sustainability and digitalization were two of the crucial factors in E.ON’s choice of Castellum as a partner and future landlord of the company’s new Nordic headquarters.

At present (late autumn 2018), planning is under way; the construction process is expected to begin in 2019 and continue for two years before one of the world’s most sustainable workplaces will be ready for occupancy by E.ON’s approximately 1,500 employees. The company’s employees will encounter a workplace that is out of the ordinary, not only in the form of the building’s spectacular design but also through the carefully prepared experience that E.ON will create in partnership with Castellum, not only to help employees feel at home in their workplace and to attract new employees, but also to help people fully experience the company’s brand promise — every day, through the employees at work.

A clear vision: an activity-based office with sustainability in focus

E.ON’s current office in Malmö is divided among three properties: two buildings on Carl Gustavs väg and one on Nobelvägen.

“We have known for a while that the premises are not suitable for our current needs, and it has become increasingly clear that we need a new shared office property that promotes our activity and corporate culture as well as strengthening us as an attractive employer,” says Linda Palac, who is also the project director for the new main office.

The new shared building means that the total office space in Malmö will decrease by roughly one half, and the entire company’s work method will be changed to an activity-based one that requires a completely different office design than the current one. The building will be certified under The WELL Building Standard®, which places strict requirements on sustainability as regards the building itself, but also includes people’s health and well-being at work.

“Our future employees should be attracted by the office, and think: This is where I want to work!”

That is why E.ON wants to build a creative environment, with opportunities for spontaneous meetings and also space to work alone. The idea is to start from the task to be solved, and to select the work environment that is best suited, which provides opportunities for new forms of collaboration. A more flexible office also means that it should be simple to change based on changed work methods, organization or staffing. All areas should be used as efficiently as they can, and have double functions.

“A stimulating environment where people feel at home is important. Apart from such fundamental requirements as good lighting, acoustics and air, we also want to create comfortable environments with lots of greenery, sustainable natural materials and elements of water.”

The future result: a unique building with a double-glazed facade, large terraces and 100% recycled or renewable energy

Seen as a whole, the building will have a double-glazed facade, with large windows and extensive amounts of borrowed light. Several floors will have terraces with natural elements so that we can be in touch with nature, which we know stimulates people and makes them feel good.

“We will have a large, inviting staircase that will induce people to move instead of taking the elevator. There will also be a gym in the building, with opportunities for exercise, as well as a restaurant.”

E.ON wants to achieve the highest possible environmental certification, with an energy solution built on 100 percent recycled or renewable energy.

“We want to practice what we preach, which is why we are focusing on various energy-efficient solutions including a large solar cell farm on the roof that will drive our charging stations in and around the building. We are also looking at an energy solution called an ectogrid, in which our office will share produced or surplus energy and heat with neighboring buildings.”

An office that will be a model of sustainability for the future

There are many WELL certified properties in the world, but not many where the tenant itself is active in driving development.

“Building an example of sustainability for the future, where both people and the environment are taken into account, feels entirely natural for us and is completely in line with E.ON’s operations. That is why WELL is something we think is incredibly exciting, and entirely right for the future. Since Castellum is the property company in Sweden that has the same focus on sustainability as we do, and has also come furthest with WELL, it was natural to choose them as our partner. We feel that Castellum is more open to innovative thinking and experimentation. They are unbelievably good at listening to what we want, and they view the partnership as something bigger than just raising a building. They would gladly be a forerunner, doing something ‘out of the box’, and we think that’s exciting,” says Linda Palac.

The work on planning the building in detail, in partnership with Castellum, continues. According to the current schedule, the building will be ready for occupancy in 2021.

Three questions for Axel Carstam, Head of Digitalization for Castellum, Region Öresund

What requirements does an activity-based office place on digitalization?

First, it places stricter requirements on flexibility for all digital systems. They need to be easily adaptable so that they support the needs of the organization for mobility both at the office and outside it. The interactions between various systems also increase when working in an activity-based manner. That is why all IT solutions need to be extra robust and secure.

How will an employee at E.ON’s new main office be able to work online, in a smart and efficient manner?

E.ON has developed its own digital concept, called “E.ON’s Way of Working,” which makes working smarter possible. The property, for example, is equipped with a sensor system that, depending on work task and personal preferences, recommends the most suitable place for work to the employees. The system continuously measures workspace use and work environment conditions to ensure that the premises are used smartly and efficiently.

How have you linked digitalization with sustainability in the building?

The building is equipped with sensors that continually read and control energy and heating systems, which makes more flexible regulation of consumption possible. Moreover, the information is accessible to all of E.ON’s employees so that they can see how their behavior impacts energy consumption. The system promotes reducing the environmental burden, since it becomes possible to work more efficiently with routine, need-based maintenance in contrast to the current, more static system where components are sometimes replaced unnecessarily.

Three questions for Filip Elland, Head of Sustainability at Castellum

E.ON has an objective of building an example of sustainability for the future. Why is Castellum the right partner?

Castellum has years of solid experience in creating sustainable workplaces. We work continually with sustainability in all of our business, and see profitability in it on many levels. So far, we have certified over 150 buildings, and we recently carried out the first WELL certification in the Nordic region.

What, specifically, does WELL entail? How can employees see the difference between working in a WELL certified building compared with another modern, newly built office building?

In the property management industry, various environmental certifications regarding materials selection, energy use and other hard values is common. WELL is the first certification that also takes into account the soft values that impact well-being among those working in an office. This includes creating, to a great extent, an environment with natural light and aesthetic elements that create calm and comfort, and designing the office so that it promotes movement and activity. For example, in the form of attractive staircases, an active outdoor environment and offering opportunities for exercise. Today, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and a large part of that time at our workplaces. Our physical and social environments are one of the factors that impact our health and ability to perform. Choosing the right office is therefore of great importance in creating a successful business.

What added value do long-term sustainability efforts create? How can it yield a return on investment? Can it be measured in dollars and cents?

I would turn the question around: what happens if we don’t do it? In addition to taking responsibility and creating value for society, our planet and future generations, sustainability initiatives increase competitive advantages for Castellum. Well-integrated sustainability initiatives contribute to better property management and to efficient control of properties. This in turn leads to greater customer satisfaction, dedicated employees and improved profitability.