Green offices are improving productivity and boosting bottom line, WorldGBC report finds
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 report from the World Green Building Council 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.
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.
According to Terri Wills, CEO of WorldGBC, “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.”
Beth Ambrose, director within the upstream sustainability services team at JLL, and chair of the WorldGBC offices working group, adds: “The business case for healthy buildings is being proven. All over the world, companies, both large and small, are redesigning their offices, changing working practices and trialing new technologies, to improve the wellbeing of their staff, tenants and customers.”
Key case studies in the report include:
- Skanska cut sick days by two thirds at its office in Doncaster, UK, by making improvements to layout and noise, indoor air quality, and lighting. It helped the company save £28,000 (A$45,065) in staff costs in 2015.
- Heerema Marine Contractors expect to realise a net present value of €42 million (A$60.9 million) over 20 years in productivity, staff retention and reduced absenteeism, at its new office in Amsterdam, by improving air quality, increasing thermal comfort and maximising daylight.
- Saint-Gobain’s call centre staff at its new North American headquarters doubled their productivity after moving into the new building, with a 97 percent increase in sales-generated leads and 101 percent increase in leads per call. The building has a fitness centre, 1.3 miles of walking trails, more than 100 collaborative workspaces, and 92 percent of offices have outdoor views.
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 six percent if offices are too hot and four percent 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 percent drop in performance and concentration;
- Interior Layout and Active 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 percent 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 €27 million in absenteeism.
Over 20 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.