Sustainable cultures

Greene Catherine (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK)
Crumbleholme Lottie (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK)
Myerson Jeremy (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK)


ISSN: 0263-2772

Publication date: 28 April 2014



This paper aims to describe a design research project which looked at how to support facility managers engage employees in behaviour change to create more environmentally sustainable workplaces and work styles.


The multi-disciplinary research team used ethnographic and user-centred design methodologies to get employees’ perspectives on environmental sustainability in the workplace. This involved in-depth interviews and workplace observations to understand employees’ views on sustainability in their organisation; workshops to explore attitudes towards sustainability; and design provocations to explore how employees might be motivated to act more sustainably.


The research demonstrated the different understandings people have of what sustainability in the workplace should mean and whose responsibility they think it should be. The results were developed into a model of four different sustainability cultures, pragmatist, libertarian, housekeeper and campaigner, based upon people’s perception of the cost of sustainability to both company and employees. This model can be used to provide insight into the predominant sustainability culture of an organisation as well as the attitudes of individual employees.


The research has been compiled into a toolkit, “The Sustainable Cultures Engagement Toolkit”, aimed at FM and workplace managers, which uses this model as the basis to provide information about how best to communicate with employees about environmental sustainability in the workplace and how to motivate behavioral change. This research demonstrates a user-centred design approach to address these challenges.



Catherine Greene, Lottie Crumbleholme and Jeremy Myerson (2014) "Sustainable cultures", Facilities, Vol. 32 No. 7/8, pp. 438-454

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