PHOTOVOICE STUDY

Investigating human factors in the evolv1 green office building

What could be done to further promote sustainable values and practices at evolv1?

There are many actions that can be taken to further promote sustainable values and practices at evolv1. Citizens highlighted the importance of reconsidering the function of spaces within and around the building to center sustainability and community-building, including improving the function of the Cora Hub to be more of a ‘magnet’ for tenant organizations, community and sustainability events; introducing a publicly accessible café; and redesigning outdoor spaces to create more useable, attractive green gathering spaces. The importance of combining existing symbolic green features with direct sustainability engagement and education was emphasized, including co-creating and promoting sustainable workshops and events, and adding sustainability signage, art and direct messaging into the evolv1 space. The recognition that sustainability often requires some guidance led to discussions on the need for targeted programming and building policies to encourage more sustainable behaviours, and discourage less sustainable (e.g., incentivizing more sustainable transport, and discouraging solo driving). Supporting sustainability leadership is key for growing a culture of sustainability at evolv1, with participants recommending a range of potential strategies to help. 

Theme 1: Reconsider the function of spaces within and around evolv1 to center sustainability and community-building

“I do like the little hub area with the seats and TV and stuff like this but there’s nothing to attract me down there on a regular basis, so there’s no magnet.

“I’d like to see the Cora Hub being used as a shared space where the tenant organizations can connect. There would be a working café to help bring people in with fair trade coffee and vegan and gluten-free options, accessible to everyone.

“There appears to be an empty office and if we’re going to have a building and there’s vacancy in it, I think by definition it could be more sustainable, right. It’s not being used to its full potential.”

“I remember in the summer we did something outside and we all just sat on the ground. There wasn’t anywhere for us to sit. So just that idea of providing space outside for people I think is really important.

Seating area in the Cora Hub

Theme 2: Combine existing symbolic communication with direct sustainability education and engagement

Digital screen display in the Cora Hub

“On the Cora Hub screen it would talk about upcoming sustainable events or functions that we can take part in; ways we can collaborate, lead and work together; and ways that we can submit sustainable ideas to be considered.”

Have physical signs for features that aren’t going to change, like the green wall, and then have something digital for things that do change, like yearly or monthly energy use and things like that.”

“Near the entrance, there would be a sign describing the building and explaining sustainable practices, and then when you enter there would be plaques explaining key features and celebrating the good things happening in our building. Then there would be a communal area that details all the current companies in the building and celebrates what all of us are doing for sustainability.”

“Education is part of the low-hanging fruit for growing a culture of sustainability. There’s a lot more that’s already in the building to be celebrated and shared to influence culture.

Theme 3: Encourage more sustainable behaviours and discourage less sustainable

We should have very visible visitor bike parking. So when visitors come to our building sustainably, they can see that it’s available to them. We want it to be more incentivized than driving.”

Sometimes ease isn’t a good thing, because it can make unsustainable behaviours too easy. We need to disincentivize driving alone. If the building wasn’t encouraging driving that may also increase wellbeing, and we could replace some parking spaces with seating and natural areas, stuff like that.”

“It’s important to stay consistent with your messaging. If you’re promoting green, try to make sure that you only provide green options.

“Sustainability definitely requires some guidance, so having programming that actually establishes workshops and things like that can help get it going and help sustain it.”

Cycling and walking trail that connects to evolv1
Kitchen table gathering area in evolvGREEN
Leaf floating on water

Theme 4: Increase opportunities for social connection, nature connection, community-building and sustainability leadership

“If someone’s very proud to work in this building they’re going to mention it to their friends over dinner and it’s going to spark a conversation about sustainable buildings and who knows where that could lead?

People need to feel empowered to act with a clear understanding of how they can spark change. Food can also be a really interesting social connector.”

“I like my windows looking out on this area as often my eye is attracted to looking over the solar panels to the beautiful blue sky, and then you look down and see that body of water. And I think there’s a – I grew up near the water so there’s sort of like a song I hear when I see the water. It calms me I think. I was looking forward to making a walking exercise at lunchtime when the weather got better.”

Note on panel captions: All captions that you see on the panels are based on participant reflections from the study itself, and have been de-identified and approved for sharing publicly in this exhibit by participants. Bolded text in the panel captions was done by the researchers, to draw attention to key components of participants’ reflections.