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Green Offices Increase Worker Productivity

1 Oct, 2012 By: Editorial Staff imageSource

green manMost organizations realize that the consumer has grown aware of green products, environments and safer, healthier ways to live; at work and at home. The numbers are rising yearly, but the fact is, more than one-third of Americans strongly prefer to work for a green company rather than a company that does not promote socially responsible and environmentally friendly practices. That equation indicates the demand for more green office environments along with greener office products and supplies. 


According to Boxer Properties, Houston, TX, more than $2.7 trillion is allocated to U.S. portfolios of companies that have passed a screening for social and sustainable responsibility. That is a huge amount of money and companies should look to find out how they can be considered for a piece of this pie. Boxer cites that the concept of being a green company does not have to be weighed down with regulations and compliance only, but more about how we can profit from healthy efficiency that in return, delivers to the consumers demand; thus is profitable and eco-effective.

So what can “going green” mean for your own company as well as enhancing your customers’ business? How does “going green” increase employee productivity and profits? Boxer Properties cites the following:

First, you need to understand what makes a “Green Office Building” to get the big picture. You should want to know that the United States Green Building Council developed a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system (1999). LEED-certified buildings have shown increased asset values, lower operating costs, and are built to provide safer and healthier environments for employees who work in them; people who visit them. This LEED rating system consists of points in the following categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Innovation in Design and Regional Priority. Based on the number of points a building receives, it can achieve LEED-certified, silver, gold or platinum status. A typical LEED-certified building or office includes aspects such as:

  • Advanced ventilating systems which increase air flow, reduce carbon dioxide levels and filter pollutants
  • Only using non-toxic varieties of cleaners, paints, inks and pest control methods
  • Building materials that are sustainably sourced and have low toxicity and off-gassing
  • Advanced insulation and temperature control systems
  • Maximum use of windows and natural daylight
  • Use of high quality, energy efficient lighting

green buildingProductivity & Profitability

If you operate out of a LEED-certified building, you are demonstrating a company’s commitment to its employees’ health. Studies linking the effect of workplace environment on employee health and performance suggest the same aspects LEED measures can make a difference. Consider some of these findings:

  • Poor reaction time, fatigue, headaches and sick building syndrome (SBS) can be caused by high amounts of carbon dioxide – often due to poor ventilation systems
  • An estimated twenty percent of the U.S. population suffers from environmental allergies – which can be aggravated by poor air quality and toxic chemicals
  • Studies suggest that employees perform best when they can control the temperature of their workspace, and that the average optimal temperature is 71.6 F (22 C)
  • Lighting studies have shown increases in performance on standardized tests in classrooms with natural lighting. Additionally, lack of sufficient lighting is recognized as a link to depression.

A green office building is a key part of being green overall. In a Deloitte study of large employers who implemented green building features, three-quarters reported improvements in employee health. With rising costs of health care plans and money spent paying for non-productive sick time, the savings can be significant. The results of going green were impressive in other categories as well… better employee recruitment, retention, productivity and overall brand equity:

93% experienced a greater ability to attract talent;

81% reported improved employee retention;

87% saw an improvement in workforce productivity;

100% reported an increase in perceived
goodwill & brand equity

Companies that go green display a commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. It’s something employees, customers and future generations can feel great about.

Cause and Effect

In a series of experiments, Andrew Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi explored the powerful interplay of human emotion and worker productivity.

They noted that nothing contributes more to a society’s well-being than productivity. Economists have long analyzed ways to boost productivity through improved skills and education, changing technologies and uses of capital. Their research investigated an important but often overlooked ingredient, that of human emotion. The research, simply put, asked the question: “Does happiness make people more productive workers?”

Their findings responded to this question with a resounding yes, finding that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect. They found that happier workers’ effort levels go up, while their precision is unaltered. Doesn’t every employer want happier staff and increased work ability to keep their business effectively moving forward?

About the Author: Editorial Staff

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