Green offices can ‘boost workplace productivity and cut costs’

Businesses could massively increase productivity in the workplace by improving office design. Air quality improvement, natural light and more spacious office buildings can have a significant impact on the health, […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Businesses could massively increase productivity in the workplace by improving office design.

Air quality improvement, natural light and more spacious office buildings can have a significant impact on the health, well-being and productivity of its occupants, according to the World Green Building Council.

That can have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line by improving employee productivity and reducing absenteeism, staff turnover and medical costs.

For example, indoor air quality is improved when low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials are used in offices and the life cycle environmental impact of low VOC materials are lower than traditional materials. Increased daylighting reduces electrical loads, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the report states.

Improvements to the design of buildings could be worth many times more than the initial investment – because staff typically account for 90% of business operating costs. It adds even a 1% in productivity can have a major impact on the bottom line of the company.

The report also shows there is an average 6% fall in staff performance if offices are too hot and a 4% drop if they are too cold as well as a 101% increase in cognitive scores for workers in a green and well-ventilated workspace.

UK firm Skanska saved £28,000 in staff costs due to a two-third reduction in sick days by improving layout and noise, lighting as well as heating and cooling. Cooling in its offices are now provided by an innovative evaporating mist system that improves energy efficiency while maintaining employee thermal comfort.

However, the report does suggest a low carbon and resource efficient building is not always automatically healthier for occupants. There needs to be careful consideration into the environmental and ‘health and wellbeing’ attributes of a building if companies are to see a significant difference, it states.