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Report Makes Business Case for Building Green


LONDON—The World Green Building Council launched a new report highlighting tangible economic benefits of green building and showcasing improved occupant satisfaction when companies implement new health, wellbeing and productivity features in existing green structures.

Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building examines case studies of 11 facilities around the globe that have one or more green certifications including LEED, Green Star and BREEAM. The report evaluates health and wellbeing features that were integrated into the facilities, such as: enhanced fresh air ventilation, acoustic privacy, increase of daylight penetration and use of biophilic design elements such as green walls and extensive indoor plants.

After adding health and wellbeing features into green-certified buildings, companies found that employee absenteeism was reduced, operating costs were minimized, and employees felt more productive and healthier.

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “This report should send a clear signal to companies with employees as well as building owners and managers to make green building investments a priority. It’s obvious that making energy efficiency improvements will reduce operating costs, but arguably an even greater impact of green improvements are those felt by the people who spend their working lives in these spaces. Greener workspaces are healthier, more enjoyable places to work, and this has a tangible impact on productivity, employee health and the business bottom line.”

A ‘Clear Signal to Companies’

This report should send a clear signal to companies with employees as well as building owners and managers providing spaces for these companies.

Key case study results include:

  • The Akron Children’s Hospital project by HKS in Ohio achieved over $900,000 in annual energy savings, and family satisfaction with the space increased by 67 percent.
  • Cundall’s UK office’s absenteeism dropped by more than four days per person per year, a 58 percent reduction. Staff turnover reduced by 27 percent. Taken together, these two outcomes provided a £200,000 saving per year.
  • Sherwin-William’s Centro-America headquarters in El Salvador saw a 68 percent reduction in reported respiratory problems and a 64 percent reduction in reported allergy problems. Additionally, since moving to the new building, absenteeism reduced by 44 percent. Sherwin-Williams has calculated a total annual saving of $85,000 per year.
  • Plantronics’ office in The Netherlands saved the developer €624,000 in financing costs when the client elected to purchase the building. Increased employee productivity to Plantronics has been estimated at €2.1 million per year.
  • American Society of Interior Designers’ new HQ in Washington D.C. saw an increase in employee productivity and reduction of absenteeism, which is expected to pay for its investment within the first five years.
  • Henderson Land Development in Hong Kong has created a highly desirable mixed-use community and is realizing 40 percent higher property values compared to nearby equivalent properties.

The report was sponsored by the global filtration specialists, Mann+Hummel, design and manufacturing group, Saint-Gobain, real estate investment trust company, Landsec, and real estate developers, Delta Development Group.

“Sustainable office buildings deliver along the triple bottom line: they are not only better for the natural environment, they also improve employees’ wellbeing and bring economic benefits. The world-class projects explored in this impressive report help to further build the business case. We are delighted to be supporting this project and look forward to working on more green building initiatives,” said Pascal Eveillard, Deputy VP, Sustainable Development, Saint-Gobain.

“It’s clear from the quality of the case studies that there is a growing amount of evidence in the bid to build green,” said Landsec Sustainability Insights Director Ed Dixon. “We’re delighted to see that green buildings have a wider impact on employee satisfaction and result in happier, healthier workplaces.”

Employees Prefer Healthier Work Spaces

The report found that employees prefer and work best in spaces with good air quality, ample natural light, and access to greenery and amenities.

“Here at Delta we have first-hand experience of reaping the benefits of making green buildings. By integrating health, wellbeing and smarter working we noticed a shift in the productivity and performance of our employees while simultaneously delivering a good return on investment. Building green simply makes business sense—socially, economically and environmentally,” said Coert Zachariasse, CEO, Delta Development Group.

“I’m very impressed with the highlights of the report and recognise that good air quality in the workspace can really affect productivity and contribute to employee satisfaction,” said Mann+Hummel Vice President of “OurAir” Intelligent Air Solutions, Jason Tang. “With the improvement of people’s living standards, indoor air quality is attracting more and more attention. Making the workplace more comfortable and healthy for people has, in these case studies, been proven to hold many benefits.”

Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building Report is available here.