Green Buildings Equal Good Workers

Sept. 14, 2011

Good air quality, comfortable temperatures, natural light, and other features associated with green buildings are likely to result in a more productive workforce, according to Global Sustainability Perspective, a study conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle.

Although the impact of green features on productivity is difficult to quantify, an examination of the existing data shows a correlation between a comfortable and healthy workplace and occupant wellbeing.

“When business people make a financial case for green buildings, they often focus on energy efficiency because the cost and benefit are easily measured,” says Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle. “But the opportunity to increase employee productivity even by a few percentage points is a much greater financial plus, even if the benefit cannot be precisely quantified. Companies recognize that a comfortable environment that promotes good health allows their employees to produce better results.”

Strategies for creating office environments that promote the wellbeing and health of occupants include:

Indoor air quality

  • Allow individual control of indoor air quality levels and ventilation.
  • Avoid placing printers and copiers near workstations to minimize toner dust.
  • Use chemical-free cleaning supplies.
  • Install low-emission wall and floor coverings.
  • Provide air quality monitoring.


  • Provide workers with effective controls, such as task lighting, blinds, and shades, to reduce solar glare.
  • Design space layouts to maximize penetration of natural light into workspaces.
  • Avoid glare on computer screens from lighting and office windows.

Thermal comfort

  • Give workers individual control over workstation temperature, if possible.
  • Periodically monitor temperature levels.
  • Access to outside views and external space
  • Design open-plan workspace layouts to maximize access to outside views.
  • Provide access to external space for stuff to use as breakout and collaborative space, wherever possible.


  • Monitor noise levels of printers and copiers.
  • Provide separate work areas to accommodate various noise levels, such as quiet areas, meeting rooms, and lounges.


  • Educate employees on proper ergonomic practices.
  • Provide equipment that reduces musculoskeletal disorders.

“It may be impossible to know exactly how a specific feature in a workplace will affect the productivity of workers in that space,” says Probst, “but we do know that many strategies to make buildings more sustainable also enhance occupant wellbeing and promote health, and those factors lead to higher productivity.”

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