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Jan Lee headshot

World Green Building Council: Employee Productivity Improves with Smart Construction

By Jan Lee

Companies that invest in environmentally sound buildings not only save money but incentivize better productivity from their workers.

That’s according to a report by the World Green Building Council, which looked at cost savings, productivity levels and other advantages experienced by companies that invested in green building environments.

Doing Right for the Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building summarizes the findings of 11 companies around the world that invested in environmentally sound buildings and tracked savings not only in resources but in worker absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced productivity at work).

Examples from the survey included Akron Children’s Hospital, which noted a net energy savings of $900,000 and 48 percent less carbon emissions than the average US hospital; Floth, a sustainable building consultant in Australia ,which found not only happier employees but a reduction in worker sickness reports; and Delta Development Group in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, where employees noted a 21 percent improvement in air quality and 92 percent benefit from better working environments.

But the feedback from WorldGBC members also revealed that certain operational and planning procedures increased those benefits.

  •  Employees satisfaction spiked when they had a role to play in co-designing the new eco-conscious space.

  • Low carbon emissions weren’t the only selling point of green construction. For occupants, good lighting, smart design and attractive greenery were just as important as the materials that were used in the construction and their ecological benefits.

  • The biggest financial benefits of green buildings is gained when impacts on the environment and occupants are addressed ahead in planning.

The report coincides an effort by European banks to create a new green mortgage scheme that would incentivize energy efficient construction across the EU. Backers of the pilot program include Nordea Bank, ING Bank and Societe Generale. WorldGBC is also backing the initiative.

According to the WorldGBC, nearly 40 percent of global emissions can be attributed to the construction sector. So to encourage changes, the council is also backing a new green building construction accelerator that can target regional areas in need of sustainable

The project has encouraged new “green” construction in several high-density areas like Bogota Colombia, where 20 regional partners are designing a new policy on energy efficiency. Other partners in Panama and Guatemala are also working to transform the way construction is addressed in urban areas.

The organization’s annual World Green Building Week, which takes place this year September 24-30, will be focusing on those efforts, encouraging local residents to explore the process of creating more sustainable and green communities.

Flickr image: Neal Snyder/US Army Environmental Command

Jan Lee headshot

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

Read more stories by Jan Lee