The wellbeing benefits of green buildings

The report finds that wellbeing features in green-certified facilities reduce employee absenteeism and minimises operating costs

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Plantronics building in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, is one of the featured case studies

The call comes in a new study, Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building, which examines case studies of 11 facilities around the globe that have one or more green certifications including LEED, Green Star and BREEAM.

Published by the World Green Building Council, the report evaluates health and wellbeing features that were integrated into the facilities including enhanced fresh air ventilation, acoustic privacy, increase of daylight penetration and use of biophilic design elements such as green walls and extensive indoor plants.

The council’s research found that employees prefer and work best in spaces with good air quality, ample natural light, and access to greenery and amenities.

After adding health and wellbeing features into green-certified buildings, companies found that: employee absenteeism was reduced; operating costs were minimised; and employees felt more productive and healthier.

“This report should send a clear signal to companies with employees as well as building owners and managers to make green building investments a priority. It’s obvious that making energy efficiency improvements will reduce operating costs but arguably an even greater impact of green improvements are those felt by the people who spend their working lives in these spaces,” said Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council.

“Greener workspaces are healthier, more enjoyable places to work, and this has a tangible impact on productivity, employee health and the business bottom line.”

Key case study results in the report include:

  • The Akron Children’s Hospital project by HKS in Ohio achieved over $900,000 in annual energy savings, and family satisfaction with the space increased by 67 per cent
  • Cundall’s UK office’s absenteeism dropped by more than four days per person per year, a 58 per cent reduction. Staff turnover reduced by 27 per cent. Taken together, these two outcomes provided a £200,000 saving per year
  • Sherwin-William’s Centro-America headquarters in El Salvador saw a 68 per cent reduction in reported respiratory problems and a 64 per cent reduction in reported allergy problems. Additionally, since moving to the new building, absenteeism reduced by 44 per cent. Sherwin-Williams has calculated a total annual saving of $85,000 per year
  • Plantronics’ office in the Netherlands saved the developer €624,000 in financing costs when the client elected to purchase the building. Increased employee productivity to Plantronics has been estimated at €2.1m per year
  • American Society of Interior Designers’ new HQ in Washington DC saw an increase in employee productivity and reduction of absenteeism, which is expected to pay for its investment within the first five years
  • Henderson Land Development in Hong Konghas created a highly desirable mixed-use community and is realising 40 per cent higher property values compared to nearby equivalent properties.

The report was sponsored by the global filtration specialist, Mann+Hummel, design and manufacturing group, Saint-Gobain, real estate investment trust company, Landsec, and real estate developer, Delta Development Group.

“Here at Delta, we have first-hand experience of reaping the benefits of making green buildings,” added Coert Zachariasse, CEO, Delta Development Group.

“By integrating health, wellbeing and smarter working we noticed a shift in the productivity and performance of our employees while simultaneously delivering a good return on investment. Building green simply makes business sense – socially, economically and environmentally.”

The report can be downloaded here

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