Global Project Reflects The Bottom-Line-Benefits Of Green Buildings

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A major global project that will help to define the health and productivity benefits of green office buildings has been launched by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC).

The topic is rising up the global agenda as organizations begin to understand the business benefits of greener, healthier buildings. Jones Lang LaSalle, Lend Lease and Skanska are acting as sponsors. The Green Building Councils of Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States and Colombia are also partnering on the project.

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With 85 per cent of a company’s costs spent on salaries and benefits, even modest improvements to staff health and productivity can have a dramatic impact on profitability.

Studies have revealed:

● Up to an 11 per cent increase in productivity as a result of improved ventilation;

● Up to a 23 per cent increase in productivity as a result of improved lighting design; and

● Significant improvement in employee recruitment and retention as a result of green office retro-fits.

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While there is a growing body of research that firmly supports the connections between sustainable buildings and the improved health, productivity and learning of those who occupy them, this evidence is yet to inform investment decisions in the same way as traditional financial metrics. This project aims to identify the metrics that will support investment in greener buildings.

But there is a definite shift underway in the understanding of what makes for a healthy, happy and profitable workplace. Claudia Hamm, head of strategic workplace at sponsors Jones Lang LaSalle said that when making strategic location decisions, her corporate clients are shifting their focus away from space efficiencies and are asking questions about the environmental credentials of the space and how it will support the productivity of their staff.

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Geoff Dutaillis, group head of sustainability at sponsors Lend Lease added: “People are an organization’s greatest asset and lie at the heart of the broader sustainability challenge, which is to meet our needs for the future, while respecting nature – the very system that supports our existence. As the fight for talent increases, corporate health and wellbeing strategies are increasingly being used as a competitive edge to attract and retain the best people. The spaces we occupy are an integral part of this endeavour.

“As one of the largest international property and infrastructure companies, our focus is on continuing to invest in ‘health and wellbeing’ strategies for our employees, partners and visitors.”

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And Staffan Haglind, green business officer at sponsors Skanska, said: “The situation today – where buildings’ impact on human health, wellbeing and performance is usually not taken into consideration – is not good enough. I’m totally convinced that optimizing premises from a human perspective will help people, as well as organizations, to thrive and outperform.”

The final WorldGBC report is expected in the fall.