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Workers in green buildings take less sick leave
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People working in 'green' office space in the USA take less sick leave, according to a recent study. The researchers from the University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate and property developers CB Richard Ellis also found that workers in green buildings had higher productivity than those working in similar non green settings.
Workers in green buildings take less sick leave

Improved indoor air quality, abundant natural light, removing the need for flourescent strip lighting, and better ventilation were cited as reasons employees perform better when working in green buildings.

“People like natural light, they like clean air,” said Norm Miller, academic director at USB, although it is not clear whether the effects are physical or psychological.

Conducted by Miller and David Pogue, national director of sustainability for CB Richard Ellis, the study surveyed 534 tenants of 154 green buildings across the United States.

Of those surveyed, 12 percent of respondents said they strongly agree employees were more productive in green buildings, 42.5 percent agreed employees were more productive and 45 percent noted no change in productivity.

Of the companies that reported an increase in productivity, the average increase was greater than 4 percent. The increase in productivity was in part due to employees taking fewer sick days.

Forty-five percent of the companies surveyed reported employees took an average of 2.88 fewer sick days at their new green office location compared with their previous location.

An equal amount noted no effect and 10 percent reported more sick days. The 10 percent were residents of Energy Star-labeled buildings, which -- unlike LEED-certified buildings -- do not have air quality requirements.

The study estimates the increase in productivity translates into a net effect of $20.82 per employee based on an office space of 250 square feet per worker using average salary as an index. The average effect on productivity was estimated at $5,204 per employee, with the average impact of employees taking fewer sick days was estimated at $1,228 per worker.

The effect of increased productivity and fewer days lost to illness increases the worth of rented space by $20.82 and $4.91 per square foot, respectively.

However, despite the benefits, the majority of respondents said they would not pay more for a green building, an attitude Miller said he believes will change as people begin to realize the benefits of such office space.

“Healthier buildings reduce sick time and increase productivity,” Miller said. “If you consider the benefits in terms of recruitment, retention of employees, less sick time and greater productivity, tenants should be willing to pay more rent for such space or require steep discounts for less healthy space.”

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