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Why People Prefer Green Buildings

Sustainability is important every single day of the year. Celebrating Earth Hour on March 25th creates a moment where we can stop and pause to remind ourselves how important sustainability is. On this day, we raise awareness about the impact of sustainability in our workplace and communities, and we also share the insights that we have with one another. Our common goal is the building of a cooperative, engaged and responsible community.

There are billions of galaxies in the world, billions of planets in the galaxy, but crucially only one earth. In much the same way there are thousands of companies in Ireland, thousands of offices throughout the country but crucially, only one of those is yours.

The Link Between People’s Health And Building Health

A green building is good for employees, good for business and ultimately good for the bottom line, helping to reduce absenteeism particularly absenteeism related to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). The Health and Safety Executive explains that SBS is a term used to describe buildings in which there is a prevalence of a range of symptoms causing discomfort and a sense of being unwell.

While no single cause has been identified for SBS, there are a number of common features often found in sick buildings including; forced ventilation or air-conditioning; lightweight construction; indoor surfaces covered in fabrics, e.g. carpets; a homogeneous thermal environment, and airtight rooms, e.g. where there are no operable windows or other openings to the outside.

A sick building leads to sick employees, damaging their health and wellbeing as well as their engagement. CBRE’s landmark study Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense? found that tenants in green buildings reported an average of 2.88 fewer sick days in their current green office versus their previous non-green office.

In fact, modelling from CitySwitch has found that a typical financial or professional services firm operating from a 5 Star Green Star-rated office of 5,000m2 could save the equivalent of 681 less sick days a year simply through reduced absenteeism, as well as saving $824,792(AUD) a year through increased employee retention.

People Prefer Green Buildings For The Boost To Productivity

The focus of green building design is to create a comfortable indoor environment. When we are comfortable, we can work better and the research backs this up. CBRE’s study found that tenants in green buildings are more productive, based on the self-reported productivity change. About 55% of respondents indicated that employee productivity had improved in the new green building. Since green buildings are end-user focused by design, they consistently outperform non-green buildings in terms of comfort and productivity. Natural light, fresh air and access to views of the outdoors, as well as adjustable control over individual workspaces temperature and lighting, all directly affect productivity and are reasons why people prefer green buildings.

Again, the Modelling from CitySwitch puts specific figures to these savings. Their findings show that the productivity savings gained from a typical financial or professional services firm operating from a 5 Star Green Star-rated office of 5,000m2 would be a staggering $3,654,744 (AUD) a year.

The Impact On Our Environment And The Bottom Line

One of the most important benefits of green buildings is their direct impact on our climate and the natural environment. Green buildings reduce negative impacts by using less water, energy or natural resources, and in some cases, they can even generate their own energy or increase biodiversity, e.g., with corporate rooftop bee installations.

While standard building practices can use and waste millions of tons of materials each year; green buildings use fewer resources and minimise waste production. According to an article published by the U.S. Green Building Council, green buildings reduce day-to-day costs year-over-year. LEED buildings report almost 20% lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings, and green building retrofit projects typically decrease operation costs by almost 10% in just one year. Between 2015 and 2018, LEED-certified buildings in the United States are estimated to have $1.2 billion in energy savings, $149.5 million in water savings, $715.2 million in maintenance savings and $54.2 million in waste savings.

Companies working in competitive industries are starting to realise the direct impact that green buildings can have on their overall employee experience and are seeing that prioritising green buildings has an immediate knock-on effect on their ability to attract, hire and retain the best talent in the field.

As well as making a building more comfortable, choosing to prioritise sustainability increases property values and reduces operating costs so it’s clear it pays to be green!

If you’d like to read more, check out 3 Top Tips for Sustainable Office Fit-Outs

To get in touch and discuss how you can go green, reach out to us.

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