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Green Buildings Good for Employee Morale, Health and Productivity: Study

Green buildings are not just good for the environment, they’re good for office morale. At least, according to a new survey released from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The survey found employees who work in LEED-certified green buildings are “happier, healthier and more productive” than employees who work in conventional buildings. It also found a majority of workers prefer working for organizations that are “value-oriented, take stances on important issues like sustainability, and do their part for making a positive difference in the world.”

“Employees know that green building programs like LEED help companies to develop responsible, sustainable and specific plans for green energy, water, waste, transportation and many other factors accountable for the human experience,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the USGBC.

According to the survey, more than 90% of respondents working in LEED-certified buildings reported being satisfied with their job and 79% would specifically choose a LEED-certified building over a traditional building. Additionally, 84% of respondents said they prefer working for a company with strong values.

“We discovered that today’s employees are more motivated than ever to work for a company that promotes not just a higher standard of living for its employees, but also of its community,” said Ramanujam. “In today’s highly competitive job market, if companies want to attract and retain highly-skilled, talented employees, they must demonstrate a commitment to environmental, human and economic sustainability.”

A separate study from United Technologies found employees in green buildings were actually healthier than their counterparts, reporting 30% fewer sick building symptoms than those working in traditional buildings. They also had 6% better sleep quality measures compared to other employees in “high-performing buildings” that weren’t green-certified.

“Certified green buildings not only deliver environmental benefits, they can have positive impacts on the productivity and thinking of the people in those buildings. That’s a powerful combination that can accelerate the green building movement globally,” said John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer at United Technologies.

According to the USGBC survey, working in LEED-certified buildings with high-quality indoor air linked to heightened productivity, better health and employee happiness. Employees also said natural sunlight and “quality outdoor views” boosted outdoor productivity. The survey was conducted by Porter Novelli and included 1,001 U.S. workers who are employed, either full-time or part-time, or self-employed but also work in an “office building setting.”

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was created by the USGBC and is used in more than 94,000 projects in 167 territories or countries. It promotes strategies aimed at addressing climate change and the good health of employees working in certified buildings, according to the organization.

LEED-registered projects in the U.S. number 67,208 as of 2018. There are four levels of certification, with each requiring a specified number of credits in categories such as resources and materials, sustainable siting, water efficiency, design innovation, atmosphere and energy, regional priority and indoor environmental quality, according to the USGBC.

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