Green buildings help to improve worker efficiency

April 13, 2012

The case for green buildings has been made from both an energy-cost and environmental point of view, but companies are now learning that adopting a more sustainable structure can actually help to improve worker productivity.

According to a release from Carrier, a high-tech heating and cooling solutions company, several experts in the field of green building have noted that the design of the building itself can contribute to boosting employees' moods, increasing productivity and aiding in worker retention.

"Green building is good business. Green building certifications attract tenants, employees, even students and help to keep them… People want to work in green buildings, and comfortable, happy workers are more productive workers," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, in a speech titled "People, Planet and Performance."

Fedrizzi gave the speech at a conference held by Carrier, as industry experts came from all over the U.S. to detail the benefits of using green and sustainable technology in both commercial and residential buildings.

According to the release, in addition to creating happy workers, green buildings often result in life-cycle savings of 20 percent of the initial construction costs. Several speakers at the conference gave detailed speeches regarding the correlation between increased productivity and employees who love to be in their work space.

"People feel good when they feel connected to nature," said Robert F. Fox Jr., AIA, partner at Cook+Fox Architects and Terrapin Bright Green LLC, a leader in the green building movement.

Fox spoke to his work on the Bank of America building in New York City, and how a structure feels – literally – can positively impact worker productivity. This can be done by providing significant access to daylight with floor-to-ceiling windows and by using natural materials. These are keys to "rethinking how we do buildings."

New research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, outlined how commercial building owners can chop their heating and cooling costs in half by implementing energy efficient controls. This highlights how green structures provide multiple benefits to owners and tenants.

This type of positive influence in the industry is what the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is trying to exert, as the Department of Energy-designated project looks to change the perception of green buildings and retrofitting on a national level.