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Top 5 Studies Linking Green Building to Productivity

February 13, 2013 | 0 comments

It’s hard to ignore study results demonstrating that green facilities improve employee productivity. Changes that come along with sustainable, green building improvements often include things like low-VOC finishes, temperature control, improvements to indoor air quality, and access to daylight. And all of these factors can positively affect the work environment, where employees spend 40 hours or longer each week.

We’ve compiled a list of five studies (starting with the most recent) that support and link green buildings to some level of improved productivity.

Study #1

Environmental Standards and Labor Productivity: Understanding the Mechanisms that Sustain Sustainability (download)

Conducted by: UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

When: 2012

Method: 10,000 employees across 5,220 French companies were surveyed and asked to report on productivity, training, costs, employee interaction, etc.

Findings: Companies that voluntarily adopt green practices and standards have employees who are up to 16% more productive.


Study #2

Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity (view)

Conducted by: Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design, & Construction

When: 2010

Method: Three researchers surveyed two groups of employees who had moved from a conventional office building to a LEED-certified office building.

Findings: Absenteeism due to allergies or asthma dropped by as much as 50%, while the amount of time participants felt the effects of allergies or asthma declined by up to 60%. Absenteeism due to depression and/or stress dropped by up to 30%.


Study #3

Greening the Building and the Bottom Line: Increasing Productivity through Energy-Efficient Design (download)

Conducted by: Rocky Mountain Institute, U.S. Department of Energy

When: 2010

Method: Eight case studies were examined across manufacturing, retail, government, financial, etc. Changes in productivity and absenteeism were noted after improvements were made to indoor air quality, daylight access, etc.

Findings: Energy-efficient improvements made to lighting and HVAC systems generally make employees more comfortable and productive. Examples included a productivity increase of 13% and absenteeism reduction of 25% after one facility upgraded to an efficient lighting system, and a productivity increase of 15% and absenteeism reduction of 15% another facility made some energy-efficiency enhancements.


Study #4

Green Buildings and Productivity (download)

Conducted by: University of San Diego, CB Richard Ellis

When: 2009

Method: 534 tenants who moved from conventional buildings into LEED-certified or ENERGY STAR-labeled buildings were studied.

Findings: 54.5% reported that employees were more productive after moving into a LEED or ENERGY STAR space, and 45% noticed a decrease in sick days.


Study #5

Linking Energy to Health and Productivity in the Built Environment (download)

Conducted by: Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture

When: 2008

Method: Hundreds of case studies were examined to analyze changes in productivity based on building improvements.

Findings: In green buildings, improved IAQ lead to productivity increases of 0.5% to 11%. Providing access to daylight in offices increased productivity by 5% to 15%.


What do you think of these studies? Do you believe the results, or are other factors involved with these productivity and absenteeism improvements?

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