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Green Building Features Support Worker Wellbeing and Productivity

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Global Sustainability Perspective analyzes the effects of indoor air quality, natural light, thermal comfort and other building environmental features on workplace productivity

A workplace with good air quality, comfortable temperature, natural light and other features associated with green buildings is likely to result in a more productive workforce, according to a study conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle.

In the recently released edition of Global Sustainability Perspective, Jones Lang LaSalle research professionals analyzed previous studies of the connection between green buildings and employee productivity. Although the impact of green features on productivity is difficult to quantify, an examination of the existing data shows a clear correlation between a comfortable and healthy workplace and occupant wellbeing, which translates into lower absenteeism and greater productivity.

Read the complete findings of the study and other articles on global sustainability here:
“When business people make a financial case for green buildings, they often focus on energy efficiency because the cost and benefit are easily measured. But the opportunity to increase employee productivity even by a few percentage points is a much greater financial plus, even if the benefit can not be precisely quantified,” said Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at Jones Lang LaSalle. “Companies recognize that a comfortable environment that promotes good health allows their employees to produce better results.”

In the Global Sustainability Perspective, Jones Lang LaSalle recommends a range of strategies for building managers and corporations to create office environments that promote the wellbeing and health of occupants:

Indoor air quality
  • Allow individual control of indoor air quality levels and ventilation
  • Avoid placing printers and copiers near work stations to minimize toner dust pollution
  • Use chemical-free cleaning supplies
  • Install low emission wall and floor coverings
  • Provide air quality monitoring
  • Provide workers with effective controls such as task lighting, blinds and shades to reduce solar glare
  • Design space layouts to maximize penetration of natural light into work spaces
  • Avoid glare on computer screens from lighting and from office windows
Thermal comfort
  • Give workers individual control over workstation temperature, if possible
  • Periodically monitor temperature levels
Access to outside views and external space
  • Design open-plan workplace layouts to maximize access to outside views
  • Provide access for staff to external space for use as break out and collaboration space, where possible
  • Monitor noise levels of printers and copiers
  • Provide separate work areas to accommodate various noise levels, such as quiet areas, meeting rooms, and lounges
  • Educate employees on proper ergonomic practices
  • Provide equipment that reduce musculoskeletal disorders
“It may be impossible to know exactly how a specific feature in a workplace will affect the productivity of workers in that space, but we do know that many strategies to make buildings more sustainable also enhance occupant wellbeing and promote health, and those factors lead to higher productivity,” Probst said.

In Asia Pacific, most fast growing markets have started to take a keen interest in Green Buildings, taking best practices from Australia and Japan. Peter Hilderson, Head of Energy and Sustainability Services - Asia Pacific for Jones Lang LaSalle commented “As the number of case studies in the region grows, the benefits associated to indoor environmental quality are increasingly quantitative. This makes a big difference to local decision makers who more inclined to value health above less tangible concerns.”

Hilderson continued “Coupled with the urgent need to save energy and water, productivity and health benefits has shifted the calculus around green building decisions. Private and public sector decision makers in most countries are already accounting for this change. In Australia and Japan, it’s part of business as usual. In Singapore and China - with its new 12th 5-Year Plan - are formalizing new standards across the board.”