Green Building Features Reduce Healthcare Costs

Oct. 30, 2014

Report shows healthy features and practices yield results.

With the increased focus on energy efficiency and sustainable design, one feature that has been often been touted but hard to define is the impact that such changes have on occupant health and wellbeing. However, a new report presented at Greenbuild shows that 47% of building owners report healthcare cost reductions of 1-5% after the implementation of green features. 

The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings: The Market Drivers and Impact of Building Design and Construction on Occupant Health, Well-Being and Productivity from McGraw-Hill Construction found that 56% of building owners saw lower rates of absenteeism and 21% reporting improved productivity. Additionally, 52% of building owners report that they don’t know if the green features they’ve used have had significant health benefits for occupants, indicating that more measurement is needed.

The study also surveyed architects and contractors about the products and practices they consider to have the highest impact on the health of building occupants. Non-toxic building materials, use of daylighting, low-VOC products, maximizing air exchange, and accessibility to outdoor views were cited as the top five. 

Spaces for occupants to relax and unwind with coworkers was likewise mentioned as a key factor, with 66% of surveyed HR executives reporting that they consider places for social interaction to be an important factor when choosing a new workspace.  However, the report shows a disparity between the evaluation of these places and their true effect on occupant productivity. Over 30% of HR executives say they have a significant impact on health and productivity, but the feature ranks dead last for architects and contractors to consider and is less widely implemented than other building features.

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