Energy efficient buildings increase worker productivity, health

July 12, 2012

The increased presence of energy efficient buildings in the U.S. has led to significant cost saving opportunities for American companies, but there may be other benefits to these green structures.

According to Green Buildings, the structures that are able to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have been shown to increase worker productivity and the health of their occupants.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noted that levels of indoor pollutants can be up to 100 times greater than the presence of these materials outside. This highlights the importance of using technology that helps to remove these toxins from buildings, as this can detract from the health of a worker.

According to the news outlet, people who stay inside for long hours, such as those who are working in an office building, are identified as potential health risks by the World Health Organization. Not only do unhealthy employees take more sick days, but these individuals also are much less productive than those who are employed in cleaner environments.

A case study from the Rocky Mountain Institute cited how high indoor environment quality improved the productivity of workers by 16 percent.

According to Green Buildings, other research has outlined the monetary benefits of greening a work environment, as a study by Kats noted that the increased worker productivity and decreased sick time in cleaner buildings helped to create a gain of roughly $37 to $55 per square foot.

Sick time could be sharply reduced for a company that moves its operations to a LEED certified building, allow it to support its workers and limit the amount of time that they waste in hospitals.

This type of motivation could increase the national push for energy efficient buildings in the U.S., a movement that is being spearheaded by an innovation Hub designated by the Department of Energy.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is helping to influence the commercial real estate market in the U.S., as the effort is promoting the use of retrofits and green renovations to lower costs and emissions.

This may help the U.S. catch up with the rest of the world on energy efficiency, as a recent study from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy put America in ninth place out of the developed nations that were ranked.