Greener offices boost workforce performance

Good air quality in the office can make workers around 10% more productive in their jobs, a new report by the World Green Building Council has concluded. Given that staff costs typically account for 90% of business operating costs, it pays to create a workplace that will help get the best from people, the report contends. It looks at how factors like indoor air quality, lighting, internal layouts and views from the window can affect office worker health, wellbeing and productivity.

Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building, says:

  • Indoor air quality: Better indoor air quality (low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants and high ventilation rates) can lead to productivity improvements of 8-11%
  • Thermal comfort: This has a significant impact on workplace satisfaction and modest degrees of personal control over thermal comfort can return single digit improvements in productivity
  • Lighting and views of nature: Views from windows can be significant, particularly where the view offers a connection to nature
  • Noise and acoustics: Being productive in the modern knowledge-based office is practically impossible when noise provides an unwanted distraction
  • Interior layout: The way the interior of an office is configured (including workstation density and configuration of workspace, breakout space and social space) has an impact on concentration, collaboration, confidentiality and creativity
  • Active design and exercise: Active design in a building and access to services and amenities such as gyms, bicycle storage and green space can help to encourage healthier lifestyles.

The report, which was sponsored by JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska, includes a toolkit that businesses can use to measure health, wellbeing and productivity, which covers such factors as absenteeism, staff turnover, and medical and physical complaints.

And research looks at plants…

The report was released to coincide with World Green Building Week. The week of events also included a presentation by engineering consultancy Cundall on the impact of plants on the built environment.

An initial study by the company looking at the impact of plants on the indoor office environment, found that their oxygen generating action could have the potential to reduce the requirement for ventilation air by 10% and air conditioning by 30%.

A preliminary study by Cundall has also looked at the impact of green roofs on their surroundings. This has found that they can be positive, absorbing heat at roof level and providing evaporative cooling. The full impact and value of green interventions like indoor planting, green walls and roofs and landscaping around buildings is still imperfectly understood, said Alan Fogarty, sustainability partner with Cundall. He added, “There’s a need for more research around these areas”.

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