The Benefits of Green Building on Employees – Improving Health and Productivity
When we think about green building, we’re often interested in things like energy efficiency, usage of sustainable materials and minimizing environmental impact during the construction process. While those are all critical aspects of green construction, we often overlook how green buildings actually benefit the people who work in them. This article discusses the design and technological innovations that make green buildings safer and healthier for the people that live and work inside them. We’ll also discuss some of the great benefits that healthier employees provide when they are given the opportunity to work in a LEED certified, green building.
Table of Contents
Health Benefits of Green Building
What makes a healthy work environment? Experts in occupational health and safety have done extensive research into the effects of indoor environmental quality in office buildings on employee health, productivity, and well-being. Green buildings contain a number of innovations that reflect present-day understanding of what constitutes a healthy work environment:
1. Improved Indoor Air Quality
Better methods of keeping pollutants out of buildings, as well as superior ventilation systems that dissipate pollutants effectively work together to improve air quality in buildings. Improved maintenance practices and policies ensure that these systems are kept clean and functional throughout the building lifespan.
2. Aesthetic Pleasantness
Improving the aesthetic beauty of a work environment is beneficial to the psychosocial state of the employees that work there. A beautiful office environment is facilitated by improving lighting, minimizing noise, adding a welcoming social space and facilities for recreation and leisure, among other things.
Healthy Employees through Green Building
The American Journal of Public Health released a study investigating the effects of green buildings on employee health and productivity. A case study was conducted in which employees who moved from conventional offices to LEED-rated buildings in Lansing Michigan were surveyed on how they perceived changes to their health and well-being in their new environment and whether they had experienced any changes in their absenteeism or depression and stress levels.
The survey found a reduction in self-reported absenteeism and affected work hours when employees moved to LEED-certified buildings. The employees felt that their productivity was increased by their increased sense of happiness with their surroundings.
Employees also reported a decline in absences due to depression and stress and reductions in work days missed due to asthma and respiratory illnesses.
Benefits of Healthy Employees
Classical economics tells us that if we want someone to do more work, we have to provide them with a better incentive. However, organizations know that getting the best creative work from people is not always linked to the size of the incentive that is available. Keeping employees happy by providing them with an excellent indoor office environment is one of the best ways to keep your employees feeling good and performing at their best.
Healthy Employees Are Happy Employees
Nobody wants to see their employees walking into work with their heads down every day. Disgruntled workers take all of their vacation, are more likely to phone in sick, don’t do their best work and may be difficult to retain. Healthy employees take less vacation, are less likely to call in sick, are more likely to be highly engaged with their work and will stay longer – that’s a win for everybody!
Healthy Employees Are More Productive
The aforementioned study found that employees who suffer from asthma and respiratory illness could provide 1.75 additional hours of work each year thanks to health improvements achieved by working in a green building. Interesting, those who reported having suffered from depression and stress in the past might gain as many as 2.02 additional work hours per year. If we summate all of those hours across all of the employees in an organization, it’s clear that there are huge productivity gains associated with working in green buildings.
Green buildings aren’t just about sustainable design and construction, the innovations in improved air quality and aesthetics create great physical and mental health benefits for those lucky enough to live and work in them. More companies should be investing in green buildings for their headquarters in order to maximize their human resources and retain healthier and happier employees.