Green offices improve staff health and productivity, study finds

24th September 2014

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The design of an office significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of its staff, according to a report by the World Green Building Council.

The report outlines the features of an office and how their design affects productivity and health.

Better indoor air quality, where there are low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants and high ventilation rates, can lead to productivity improvements of 8-11%, it found.

Thermal comfort has a significant impact on workplace satisfaction and having personal control over temperature can return single digit improvements in productivity, it says.

Previous studies have estimated productivity gains by employees sitting near windows, and experts now believe that this is caused by the views, in particular, views over nature, the report states.

Other features that can impact productivity include noise, interior layout and access to amenities that encourage healthier lifestyles such as gyms, bicycle storage and green space.

The World Green Building Council has launched a toolkit to help companies measure health, wellbeing and productivity. This uses data from absenteeism, staff turnover, revenue, medical costs; data of how employees perceive their health and productivity while at work; and physical data such as office temperature.

Company expenditure on its people comprises 90% of its costs, compared to 9% for office rental and 1% for energy, any higher costs of construction or occupation will be far outweighed by even small improvements in staff performance, the organisation said.

Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said that office occupiers can demonstrate for themselves the link between good office design and improved health and productivity of its workforce.

“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,” she said.

However, low carbon buildings are not automatically healthier and more productive for occupants, the report acknowledges. Further innovation in product technologies and renewables are needed, particularly to enable low carbon cooling hot and humid climates, it says.

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