The Importance of Sustainability in the Workplace

The Importance of Sustainability in the Workplace

Why invest in creating healthy work environments through green buildings? The Dirt, a blog run by the American Society of Landscape Architects, reports. Answers are taken from the “For the Greener Good” lecture series organized by the National Building Museum.

“A healthy workplace provides a competitive advantage. As employers, we can attract and retain talent more easily. In New York City, we examined One Bryant Park, one of Bank of America’s new green office buildings, in an attempt to prove what we already know. Our study looked at the population who moved into the building and recorded healthcare costs for these employees both before and after the move. We are looking at visits to doctors, prescriptions, etc.” –Bank of America’s Lisa Schmitz, Director of Sustainable Initiatives

“Green buildings only cost 2 percent more to construct, but reduce energy usage by 33 percent on average. In a recent survey, we worked with 100 architects and examined 350 buildings, as well as detailed data on 70 buildings. We found that the public perceives the cost of green buildings to be much higher than they actually are. In reality, this isn’t the case. The health impact is also potentially large. Our study found that a few dollars per square foot yields a 0.5 improvement in productivity. We are measuring productivity gains by looking at reduced sick days (and the cost of substitute staff). The more we quantify benefits, the higher they are.” — Gregory Kats, Good Energies, Senior Director

“We’ve seen increased rates of anger and aggression among school children in unhealthy buildings. Noisy, over-lit environments do contribute to increased anger. Can we reduce pent-up frustration through the physical environment? This is a potential area of research.” — Vivian Loftness, professor, Carnegie Mellon University

“Energy usage reductions synch up with improvements in healthy environments. Buildings that reduce energy usage by 2/3 can see a 70 percent improvement in healthy environment indicators.” – Kats

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