Green Building Can Affect Worker Wellbeing

Green buildings have lots of obvious environmental and economic benefits, such as improving air and water quality, reducing waste, reducing costs and conserving natural resources, and now, research is being done that could prove that green buildings can improve worker health and morale as well.

Generally, having a more comfortable work environment will be beneficial for workers. This is true for commercial, industrial and corporate workers. It is easier to see the link between improving work environments and for example, factory workers, because a cleaner, less polluted space will allow for healthier and happier employees. Yet, according to a new Globe and Mail news report, “the Green-Builiding Impact on Employees,” even corporate office employees in green buildings are reporting increased satisfaction. Workers state that the air quality, natural light and efficient space layouts make their day more productive and increase their overall happiness.

Various reports have show that since workers are healthier and more satisfied at work, attendance, productivity and sales have increased as a byproduct of green building. The reasoning behind this is that better control of temperature, ventilation and natural light decreases stress and health issues. Productivity increases since workers have a more conducive indoor environment, decreasing the number of sick days required and create an overall positive effect on workers. Sales will improve since retailers can sell more in areas with natural light as customers tend to linger longer.

In the Globe and Mail report, Stephanie Bertels, an assistant professor of technology and operations management at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University school of business, who’s done research about the introduction of sustainability to corporate culture, states that workers like where they work better, have a healthier environment and more access to day light in green buildings. She states that while studies have suggested that green workplaces, by virtue of being healthier and more attractive environments, increase productivity, but there are no firm conclusions. There is not enough empirical data to prove one way of the other.

Much data on this subject is preliminary and done through self reporting by companies themselves. There is still much more research to be taken on green building and how they affect employee morale and physical health, but so far, it seems as though there are enough pros to support building green, not just for workers but also for the general public.

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