The report, “Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building,” was released Sept. 24 by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) in Washington, D.C.
Co-sponsored by New York-based Skanska USA, the report found building design features, such as air quality, lighting, views of nature and interior layout, can influence not only the health of workers but also their satisfaction and job performance. The findings suggest office managers and executives should factor in the design of a work environment when evaluating business costs.
“As we see more evidence that high-performing building design enhances the wellbeing and productivity of building inhabitants, the business case for greener, healthier buildings is dramatically strengthened,” said Elizabeth Heider, chief sustainability officer at Skanska USA, in a statement. “A modest improvement in health and productivity can easily surpass even the most spectacular energy savings in bottom line benefits, because personnel costs are such a high proportion of the cost of doing business.”
The WorldGBC said it collaborated with more than 50 industry experts worldwide on the report. The findings indicate that design features commonly associated with green buildings can enable healthy and productive environments for their occupants. The report also acknowledged that low-carbon buildings are not inherently healthier or more productive for occupants. Innovations in product technologies and renewables are needed, particularly to enable low-carbon cooling in hot and humid climates.
The report is offering a toolkit that businesses can use to evaluate the health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff and relate findings back to the physical features of buildings. Measures include absenteeism, staff turnover, medical complaints and revenue. This is data that is already collected but is not typically available on a building-by-building basis.
“The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of staff is now overwhelming. There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings,” said Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council. “This is something that office occupiers can demonstrate for themselves. Most businesses are already sitting on a treasure trove of information that may yield immediate improvement strategies for their two biggest expenses — people and buildings. Understanding the relationship between the two can help businesses achieve significant competitive advantage.”