There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that is exactly the case. Today sees the start of World Green Building Week, with the theme ‘Greener Buildings, Better Places, Healthier People’.
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘People tend to think about green buildings in terms of their logistical environmental impact and their energy efficiency, carbon emissions and use of sustainable materials.
‘But this week will shine a light on the benefits to the people who use the buildings, whether they are their homes, offices, schools or hospitals.’
More productive employees, quicker patient recovery rates and higher attendance rates in schools are just some of the benefits linked to developments built using healthy construction materials which offer more orientation for daylight and greater natural ventilation.
A study published at the end of last year, carried out by the University of Salford and architects Nightingale Associates, showed the classroom environment can affect a child’s academic progress over a year by as much as 25 per cent.
‘It is really about making green and sustainability needs the norm,’ said Mr King.
‘People only started to take health and safety more seriously a few years ago and now it is an essential part of the construction of buildings. It is about getting to the point where green is just another word for better quality buildings.’
To achieve this, Mr King believes business owners don’t just want to hear how sustainable buildings can reduce their energy bills but how it affects their bottom line.
He said: ‘If you can inform people that by designing and operating a building like this you’re going to get an improvement of four per cent in the productivity of the people, you’re suddenly talking about huge figures.
‘Whether that is people working in call centres, people recovering in hospitals or improved exam results, you’re getting to the heart of what the building is all about and that is much more material to the business.’
He said the government should use its influence as the industry’s biggest customer to implement change.
‘I would like it to take the lessons from the London 2012 Olympic Games to be a lot bolder and braver as a client and demand more from the industry to deliver better buildings,’ he said. ‘The Olympic Delivery Authority said they were going to stick to the budget but not forego the sustainability requirements.
‘It doesn’t have to be seen as an unaffordable luxury and that is really the message we are trying to take into people’s offices.’
Held annually since 2010, World Green Building Week will see Green Building Councils in 98 countries – which represent more than 20,000 organisations, including the likes of Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and British Land – hosting events this year.
Last year, former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville also shared his passion for sustainability at an event co-hosted by the UK Green Building Council and property consultants and council members, GVA.
‘By running events during the week it allows us to be part of a larger occasion, which broadens our reach to raise awareness of sustainability issues,’ said Alastair Mant, head of sustainability at GVA. It will be running two events in London and a discussion in Manchester, where topics will include the energy crunch and renewables and smart metering.
Mr Mant added: ‘The buildings and towns we construct have a huge impact on the environment, and those buildings then have a huge effect on us. I really believe greener buildings and developments make people happier and healthier and that’s surely got to be better.’