We all know it — green workspaces are in. Market demand for green buildings continues to double every three years, and the demand is only going up. In 2019, the green building market is expecting to climb from $43 billion to $69 billion in the US alone.

So why is that?

For one, millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the workforce, cite sustainability as one of the top key issues they care about. Therefore, more and more businesses are adopting corporate sustainability and environmental programs as they attract talent and create a “great place to work” as they tend to coincide with the company’s mission, vision, and values.

But now that the employee demand for green workspaces is there, what is the benefit to the employee? Are green buildings just a surface-level preference, like subway-tile backsplash? The short answer is no: Green buildings create measurably happier employees, leading to a significant bottom-line increase for employers.

Second, traditional buildings often suffer from build-ups of CO2 in the air thanks to poor ventilation and thermostats that can’t be adjusted. Too much CO2 causes drowsiness — it’s the reason you need that mid-afternoon cup of coffee to keep yourself from falling asleep during meetings. It’s no surprise that CO2 levels tend to be the highest in office meeting rooms, often reaching thousands of parts per million (as compared to around 350 ppm for fresh, outside air).

Green buildings with upgraded, smart HVAC solutions can fix this problem

Outside Air Optimization is one solution which senses optimal times to bring in fresh, outside air. Not only does that lower CO2 levels and reduce energy usage, it can provide free cooling, as well.

With benefits like fresh air and better lighting, green buildings make employees more comfortable. And for employers, having comfortable employees directly impacts the bottom line. When daylighting is used, for example (a practice which maximises the use of natural light), one study found that workers were up to 23% more productive. Productivity increased another 11% from better ventilation, and 3% from being provided with individual temperature controls. Green buildings are typically backed by smart technology, including 75F’s zoning controls and mobile occupant app.

In addition to comfortable work conditions, the effects of a healthy CO2 balance alone causes massive benefits, as demonstrated in a 2015 study by the Harvard Centre for Health and the Global Environment. Participants were given cognitive tests after spending six work days in the conditions of either a conventional US office space, or a green building with ‘enhanced ventilation’ (VOC levels reduced to 50 ppm). In buildings with enhanced green conditions, results were 101% higher!

Smarter, greener buildings benefit everyone

Smart building infrastructure provides a short ROI and ongoing energy savings. Both owners and tenants can enjoy an improved quality of life thanks to enhanced monitoring, measurement, and control capabilities. Facility managers benefit from building automation thanks to the ability to analyse and improve efficiency, pre-empt costly failure or service with pre-emptive monitoring, and maximise investment of time and money across equipment and staff, freeing up people’s time to focus on higher-value priorities. With the smartest, most comfortable buildings, you shouldn’t notice the temperature, air quality or lighting, as it’s being optimised in the background for you!

The true value of healthy buildings are just beginning to come to light with the advancing Well Building Standard and other human factor assessments. Consider that the cost of staffing represents about 100x that of energy costs, on an annual, per-square-foot basis. If the energy savings alone can justify smart building improvements in a matter of just 2-3 years, consider the exponential and immediate gains in providing a great place to work for happy, productive and healthy inhabitants in your building … and on this planet.

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Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash