The financial benefits of healthy green buildings have been highlighted in a new report from the World Green Building Council.
Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building provides case studies of 11 projects across the globe, zeroing in on the financial benefits flowing from buildings that have prioritised health and wellbeing.
For example, a case study of Cundall’s new offices at One Carter Lane, London found that absenteeism dropped by 57 per cent and staff turnover reduced 27 per cent since moving to the building, which prioritised improved indoor air quality.
This has led to a £200,000 (AU$368,000) saving in staffing costs a year.
The project went for WELL Gold and BREEAM Excellent certifications, with features including sound masking and soundscaping to improve acoustics; variable ventilation controls linked to CO2 monitoring; recycled reflective flooring to increase daylight penetration; end-of-use facilities; and multi-use rooms for exercises and yoga classes.
“WELL Certification increased the project cost by 3.6 per cent,” the report said.
Based on the staff savings, the increased costs for WELL had a return on investment of less than two months.
Healthy retrofits are showing their value too, with an upgrade of Sherwin-William’s Centro-America headquarters in El Salvador leading to a 44 per cent reduction in sick days, saving US$85,000 (AU$112,000) a year. A survey last year also showed a 64 per cent reduction in reported allergy symptoms, a 68 per cent reduction in reported respiratory problems, and an overall employee satisfaction rate of 91 per cent.
Features included providing natural light to more than 90 per cent of workspaces; enhanced outdoor air injection, CO2 monitoring and low-VOC materials; and a thermo-acoustic roof to reduce internal noise levels.
An Australian project – Floth’s Brisbane headquarters at 69 Robertson Street – is also included in the report.
The project, which focused on lighting, indoor air quality and thermal comfort, has been given a staff satisfaction score of 94.5 per cent on the Building Occupants Survey System Australia (BOSSA), though the company is still calculating the economic benefit flowing from this in terms of reduced absenteeism, reduced staff turnover and increased productivity.
WGBC chief executive Terri Wills said the report should send a clear signal to companies, building owners and managers that green building investment should be a priority.
“It’s obvious that making energy efficiency improvements will reduce operating costs, but arguably an even greater impact of green improvements are those felt by the people who spend their working lives in these spaces,” she said.
“Greener workspaces are healthier, more enjoyable places to work, and this has a tangible impact on productivity, employee health and the business bottom line.”