Green Buildings Help Employee Productivity

500 Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia. Image Source: ResourceSmart.

Is there any clear link between employee productivity and green buildings? The increasing amount of evidence suggests that, indeed, green and sustainable buildings are a major factor in employee motivation and work satisfaction.

Studies have long identified the factors that drive employee productivity, such as management issues, relational factors with colleagues, salary, individual recognition, feedback, incentives, bonuses and a lot of other factors. Surprisingly, green buildings do play a role in boosting employee morale.

According to a study by Ernst & Young, among the factors that drain or reduce employee productivity are lack of innovation (15%), obsolete technology (8%), organizational structure (23%), and management problems (54%). Undeniably, the lack of natural ventilation and access to natural light are two important qualities of green buildings that are intricately linked with lack of innovation and obsolete technology, ultimately resulting in an unhappy workplace.

This has been confirmed by a number of studies done in the past. One is a 2006 study of a retrofit of the 500 Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia. With the retrofit, the buildings were provided with better ventilation and natural lighting systems. The result is a whopping 44% reduction of the monthly sick leave average of employees. Also, the secretaries posed a 9% improvement in their average typing speed.

Generally, well-lit and ventilated areas will decrease headaches, as well as sore eyes, fatigue, concentration, colds and flus. Employees tend to be happier and more productive when there is more natural light and views to the outside.

Increased productivity is just a great side effect for green building. While there are obvious benefits to building more environmentally sustainable buildings, the externalities they create such as happier, healthier and more productive employees should offset initial investments.

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