Organizations, governments and individuals around the world have been calling for increased efforts to minimize the environmental impact in a variety of areas, from mobile vehicles to standing structures. For instance, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Environmental Protection Agency have been working to promote green practices and construction in commercial, industrial and educational buildings.
The World Green Building Council is also taking steps to encourage companies to maintain clean facilities, such as the recent initiation of a project that seeks to demonstrate the efficiency and health advantages of green structures for businesses, Justmeans reported.
The WorldGBC's project
Among other aims, the endeavor strives to create a standard set of procedures for assessing productivity and health in the workplace. The organization hopes to capitalize on the significant investments that most enterprises make in benefits and salaries, leading to improved results by devising uniform policies to enhance efficiency and minimize health complications.
The project will establish guidelines for best practice on in a number of areas relevant to maintaining green facilities, including indoor office contexts, ventilation and daylighting. Research has shown that better ventilation can result in productivity increases of up to 11 percent, while superior lighting design can lead to gains of up to 23 percent.
Jane Henley, WorldGBC's CEO, noted that studies suggest that learning, productivity and health outcomes are favorably correlated with green facilities. Nonetheless, business investors have yet to make these findings a regular and active part of their fiscal calculations on a par with conventional methods. The organization's global project seeks to bring the benefits of clean buildings into the spotlight in a manner that encourages their inclusion in enterprise decision-making.
The program will be supported by the U.S. Green Building Council and comparable offices in Colombia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. The endeavor, sponsored by Skanska, Jones Lang LaSalle and Lend Lease, will further develop the Business Case for Green Building published in 2013.
The human element
The WorldGBC project emphasizes the advantages green buildings can produce due to their impact on employees and the workplace environment, according to BusinessGreen. Claudia Hamm, Jones Lang LaSalle head of strategic workplace, remarked that some businesses are inquiring into the worker efficiency benefits and environmental certifications that streamlined spaces can provide.
"When you really drill down into it, how can you tell that (for example) a firm of lawyers are performing better after moving to a new, greener office?" John Alker of the UK GBC wrote in a BusinessGreen article. "What if it's really just a renewed sense of optimism amongst staff during an economic upturn, as opposed to the impact of the office move itself? Even if staff are convinced the office is a key factor, how do you isolate the impact of low VOC materials, better lighting and ventilation, as opposed to the configuration of desks and meeting space, or new art on the walls?"
In light of mounting evidence for positive effects of clean structures on employee health, the project will examine staff turnover, sick days and laborer surveys as possible criteria for establishing a uniform method for evaluating worker productivity and health.
"The situation today – where buildings' impact on human health, wellbeing and performance is usually not taken into consideration – is not good enough," said Staffan Haglind, Skanska business officer. "I'm totally convinced that optimizing premises from a human perspective will help people as well as organizations to thrive and outperform."
The forthcoming report is expected to further detail the benefits of building green structures and utilizing green facilities management practices, especially insofar as these impact staff health and productivity.