5 ways green buildings are good for your health
At the 2018 International Green Building Conference, experts spoke about the changing face of the workplace and how human health and wellness are driving innovation in construction and building management.
Working in a sustainable building is good for people’s health and well-being, according to a growing body of research on the impacts of green buildings on occupants’ health and productivity.
The green buildings concept was initially about reducing the environmental impact of buildings by improving factors such as energy efficiency and waste management. But as health and wellness move up the list of priorities for employees around the world, building developers are moving beyond environmental goals to provide amenities that promote health and foster productivity.
In Singapore, the Green Mark for Healthier Workplaces scheme was launched to promote employee health alongside environmental sustainability in the office. Similarly, the Well Building Standard, administered by the United States-based International Well Building Institute (IWBI), rates buildings according to how wellness has been integrated into the built environment.
More employers are also realising the benefits of employee health for their businesses and are working to integrate features and programmes into the work environment that can boost job satisfaction and innovation. According to Emma McMahon, director of sustainability at CBRE, a commercial real estate services company, businesses find there is significant risk mitigation and reduction in absenteeism when employees are more engaged and motivated by a healthy work environment.
“About 90 per cent of a company’s operational costs are locked up in its people,” said McMahon, who sat on a panel titled ‘Healthy Places for Senses’ at the International Green Building Conference (IGBC) in Singapore. “There’s huge potential to unlock the benefits around health and well-being that can be driven from costs associated with salary and benefits.”
Building the business case for healthy workplaces
According to Neo Yi Lin, deputy director at the workplace health and outreach division at the Health Promotion Board (HPB), more companies are realising these benefits and recognising the business value of putting health at the centre of workplace design. She said: “People in these spaces found work more enjoyable and there was more tenant engagement and greater awareness of the developer’s brand. In a very competitive market, you cannot be competing on rent alone.”
Recent studies have shown that green buildings provide optimised environments that are beneficial for human health, through features such as natural lighting and better air quality. A 2017 study by researchers from Harvard University, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University on the Impact of Green Buildings on Cognitive Function found that participants in green office environments were more productive than those in conventional buildings. Those working in well ventilated environments were also the ones with the highest levels of cognitive function.
According to McMahon, growing interest in the impact of green buildings on occupant health reflect a cultural shift in the work place. She said: “We used to sit in cubicles and smoking was largely allowed in the office. The workplace of the past looked very different.”
These days, the industry is witnessing greater innovation and creativity to make buildings better places for people. At the building conference, experts shared several ways health and wellness have been integrated into the workplace.
Curious about the 5 ways? Read the whole article on the website of Eco-Business. https://www.eco-business.com/news/5-ways-green-buildings-are-good-for-your-health/