Natural views, air, lighting boost productivity

The World Green Building Council claims new “overwhelming evidence” that office design significantly affects health, wellbeing and productivity of staff.

The results may not be a huge surprise given most “green” rated buildings are new. 

The council cites air quality, lighting, views of nature, and interior layout all affect the health, satisfaction and job performance.

The report was sponsored by JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska. 

Alex Cutler, chief executive of the New Zealand Green Building Council, says the report builds on evidence that green buildings deliver returns through lower operating costs, and greater asset value. 

Staff-related returns were potentially the most significant because 90% of business expenses are usually salaries.

A summary of findings includes – 

  • low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants and high ventilation rates can lead to productivity improvements of 8-11%;
  • individual “thermal comfort” has a big effect on workplace satisfaction;
  • productivity gains as a result of proximity to windows, especially where the view overlooks nature; 
  • reduction of noise to avoid distraction;
  • interior layout including workstation density and configuration of work space, breakout space and social space “affects concentration, collaboration, confidentiality and creativity”;
  • access to gyms, bicycle storage and green space can encourage healthier lifestyles.

The measures used included absenteeism, staff turnover, revenue breakdown (by department or per building), medical costs and complaints, and physical complaints.