How is open planning design more energy efficient?

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How is open planning design more energy efficient?

Most of us have heard the term Open planning but what is it?

Open-planning allows air to flows from space to space with minimal barriers between the living areas or no barriers at all.

Did you Know?

Originally homes were designed and built to accommodate different rooms for different functions: the kitchen was for cooking, the dining room was for eating, and the living room was for gathering, entertaining, or relaxing. After World War II, the norm was that homeowners have houses with open floor plans.

Prior 20th Century traditional plan layout. Separate rooms closed in with walls and doors.

2018 Open plan design layouts.

Frank Taylor, mechanical engineer ignited the open plan concept in the workplace calling it the “Taylorism movement” which suggests that open planning design maximises industrial efficiency focusing on worker production only. This shift was massive but people were seen as robots and not human beings. Later with the help of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the Burolandschaft an office that reflected both corporate image and gave way to people’s needs.

Taylorism open plan design.

Burolandschaft open plan design style.

Robert Propst invented the“ action office” cubicle that enhanced many companies liberation strategies with open planning design.

As the daily volcanic household cost of living increases, more and more people have joined the bandwagon trend in living a more eco- friendly and energy efficient lifestyle. Thus enabling big-time savings in their water and electricity bills and giving TLC back to our earth.

To date buyers are more aware of the long-term costs of electricity, in saying that energy efficient design can affect the value of property in the future.

Open planning influences energy efficiency through:

A. Natural Light

In a traditional closed floor plan design, you will come across certain rooms that are limited in receiving natural light from windows. Which therefore results in turning on all the lights like a christmas tree and consuming tons of energy. Open floor plan design lends itself to no walls or barriers, which unblock, allowing the spread of natural sunlight eliminating extra costs. In cooler climate places, the presence of added natural light also allows more heat into the building decreasing furnace costs. Sharing of natural light is also encouraged through open planning so each area receives.

B. Air Circulation

Air flow is maximized in an open plan design with open windows than a traditional design as walls impede air circulation making it hard for fresh air to travel into these separate spaces. Lack of airflow requires air-conditioning and ceiling fans to break through the stuffiness and hiking electricity costs.

C. Flexibility

With more space this allows home and building owners to be more flexible and creates opportunities to change up their living / working spaces to their liking and demands.

D. Reduced Square Footage

An open floorplan will be more spacious that a traditional plan
allowing one to cut down on their square footage. The smaller your
Space is the less energy it requires to heat or cool.

E. Socializing

Open floor planning gives way to open communication and interaction between people and employees and allows parents to keep watch over their children. Traffic flow in open spaces is also more viable.

Allandale Building , Midrand Gauteng
New energy efficient open plan building contributes to 30 % less energy.

The new Cuningham Group office, CA, USA

Factors enabling energy efficiency design in open planning:

1. Orientation

Position your home or office accordingly to climate and geo-graphical layout. Keep in mind wind, sun, heat and cooling factors when the architect designs.

2. Light colours

Choose light colours as they reflect heat and keep out heat whilst darker colour pallet absorbs heat.

3. Roof ventilation and insulation.

Roof tiles absorb heat in hot temperatures and re-radiate them into the building at night. When choosing tiles, opt for foil under them to reduce the slow release of heat into your space. Poorly ventilated roof space can lead to scorching temperatures.

4. Building materials

Glass – sunlight through glass windows become trapped like a greenhouse resulting in higher temperatures and illumination of` the space. Installing double glazed windows and doors.

Concrete floors and brick walls absorb heat from direct sunlight during the day to release it at night and absorb coolness though the night to reduce heat during the day.

5. Water

Choosing water saving features such as solar powered pumps, water tanks and grey water systems help aid in energy efficiency.

6. Landscapes & Plants

Certain Plants and trees can help create a cool zone. If you’re open plan home or office is stationed near a pool or water feature an advantage is that cool breezes pass over the pool and into your space.

Did you know plants genuinely give off cooler shade than shade structure due to their transpiration and evaporation of water from plants leaves?

Diagram showing factors to a more energy efficient home.


Green offices that keep staff healthy and happy are improving productivity & boosting businesses’ bottom line, finds WorldGBC report

The Transformation of Office Design

The history of office design

Allandale Building – Waterfall City


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About Bronwyn Brown

Blue Sky Thinker ☾ Advertising & Design Manager Photography, Nature & Animal Lover❁

Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

What is a Carbon Footprint?


A Carbon Footprint is defined by the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.

When researching the ways to reduce your Carbon Footprint there were endless articles, so many in fact I nearly got lost in the green of it all. Let’s break it down.

10 Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint:

  1. Plant a Tree – A classic and for good reason. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide. [tweetthis]One 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support 2 human beings.[/tweetthis]
  2. Energy Efficient Appliances – Look for the energy rating when purchasing appliances. The current South African label gives a rating from A down to G; with A being the best for refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and electric ovens. For most appliances, insist on an A-rated appliance, they are not difficult to find. (Old refrigerators in your house may be the inefficient equal of a G-rated fridge.) In addition to the letter rating, the label should carry an energy consumption number in kilowatt hours. It is often more useful to compare this number between models than to compare the letter rating.
  3. Switch Off – Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off your computer when not in use, a computer that is off uses at least 65% less energy than one left on screensaver/standby. [tweetthis]Did you know that many electronic devices continue using energy even when off? This is known as Phantom Power.[/tweetthis] Unplug electronic devices when not in use.
  4. Drive Smart – Go for a hybrid when purchasing a new car and if you aren’t going to be doing that anytime soon make sure you keep your current vehicle properly maintained. Carpool if you can, the benefits are obvious. One car uses less fuel than two and much less than three. If you can’t carpool, stick to the following Carbon minimising tips: Don’t idle, travel light, accelerate smoothly, limit air-con use, warm up your car and plan ahead.
  5. Use CFL’s and LED’s – That’s Compact Fluorescent Lamps or Light Emitting Diodes. CFL’s use 75% less energy than an incandescent and last up to 10 times longer. LED’s are also extremely energy efficient; although not widely in use due to their cost, there is no question that LED’s are poised to supersede CFL’s in the future.
  6. Local is Lekker – Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport that food. The same concept goes for other goods and services as well as not to mention, you will be supporting the local economy too.
  7. Go Digital – There has been a lot of debate regarding the environmental costs of digital vs. print. The best policy to adopt is, “be mindful”. If you subscribe to a print paper, be sure to recycle your paper every day. If you prefer online news chose an unplugged laptop or e-reader, rather than a plugged-in device for the majority of your browsing time.
  8. Shower Power – [tweetthis]Taking a shower uses about 1/5 of the energy as taking a bath.[/tweetthis] You can also install a “low flow” shower head to limit the amount of water being used and take shorter showers.
  9. Recycle – Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to rubbish dumps and incinerators; prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials; saves energy; reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change; helps sustain the environment for future generations and helps create new jobs. Once you get in the habit of separating your cans, plastic, glass, paper and cardboard, it’s as easy as pie.
  10. Compost & Grow – It makes sense that what nourishes us from the earth should go back to nourishing the earth. Plant your own herbs and veggies. Not only does growing your own food make you a more conscientious global citizen, it brings you a sense of satisfaction.


Long story short, the more pollution that we let into the atmosphere, the worse it is for the environment. No matter what your view is on climate change these tips can save you money. Most of them don’t take that much time or effort and at the end of the month you may notice less coming out of the bank account which is a plus at any rate.

Why not start by calculating your Carbon Footprint here



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Reuse Reduce Recycle









About Sasha Anderson

Millennial Mom + wife living the hash-tag life. Remember: If You Fail - Fail Forward