New WGBC report finds that green offices that keep staff healthy and happy are improving productivity and boosting the bottom line
Employers, building owners, designers and developers throughout the world are showing that it pays to invest in greener offices that keep their occupants healthy and happy, a new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) reveals.
Building the Business Case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Green Offices highlights the global momentum behind healthy and green office design and operation, and showcases over 15 buildings that are leading the way.
“While our earlier work presented the overwhelming evidence between office design and improved health and wellbeing of workers, this report breaks new ground by demonstrating tangible action businesses are taking to improve their workspaces. The results are clear – putting both health and wellbeing, and the environment, at the heart of buildings, is a no brainer for businesses’ employees and the bottom line,” says Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council.
Simple steps like improving air quality, increasing natural light and introducing greenery - those which typically have environmental benefits such as using less energy – can also have a dramatic impact on the bottom line by improving employee productivity and reducing absenteeism, staff turnover and medical costs. The report is the latest to be released under WorldGBC’s Better Places for People campaign.
“The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is proud to contribute to the Better Places for People campaign and to elevating the profile of health and wellness in green buildings,” says Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of the CaGBC. “Canadian building owners are already seeing the benefits of investing in the health and well-being of building occupants, with greater ability to lease space quickly, charge premium rents, and increased building values. The CaGBC is committed to advancing health and wellness in buildings through LEED v4 and the WELL Building Standard, including a multi-partnership collaboration for our new Vancouver office which is striving for LEED v4 Gold.”
Key case studies in the report include:
- Doubling call centre productivity – Saint-Gobain, Malvern, PA, US
(Green building rating: LEED Platinum)
Saint-Gobain’s new North American headquarters has a fitness centre, 1.3 miles of walking trails for its 800 staff, more than 100 collaborative workspaces, including some outdoors, and 92% of offices have outdoor views. Call centre staff doubled their productivity after moving in, with a 97% increase in sales-generated leads and 101% increase in leads per call.
Building developers and owners are also discovering that it is a smart business move to invest in healthy buildings. In a survey of 200 Canadian building owners, 30% said investment in healthier buildings had a positive impact on the building’s value, 46% said they were easier to lease and 28% said they commanded premium rents.
Eight features that make healthier and greener offices
The World Green Building Council has developed a simple framework to help companies take action. It calls on them to assess key environmental factors which affect health and wellbeing, survey employees to find out how they experience them, and measure the economic factors they influence, such as productivity, absenteeism and medical costs.
The report identifies eight key factors in creating healthier and greener offices which can impact on the bottom line:
- Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation – a well-ventilated office can double cognitive ability;
- Thermal Comfort – staff performance can fall 6% if offices are too hot and 4% if they too cold.
- Daylighting and Lighting – a study found workers in offices with windows got 46 minutes more sleep a night than workers without them.
- Noise and Acoustics – noise distractions led to 66% drop in performance and concentration;
- Interior Layout and Design – flexible working helps staff feel more in control of workload and encourages loyalty.
- Biophilia and Views – processing time at one call centre improved by 7-12% when staff had a view of nature.
- Look and Feel – visual appeal is a major factor in workplace satisfaction.
- Location and Access to Amenities – a Dutch cycle to work scheme saved €27m in absenteeism.
Over twenty national Green Building Councils around the world are championing the cause of healthy green buildings, through certification and rating tools, research and stakeholder engagement to show how organisations all over the world are profiting from increasing the health and wellbeing of the people in their green buildings. Research from organisations such as the International Well Building Institute and Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, supported by United Technologies (UTC), is transforming the way we understand the interaction between human health and wellbeing and the green workplace.
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