2 Key Reasons Why Green Offices Continue to Grow

Green building has seen explosive growth in the past decade as more developers and corporations jump on the eco-friendly bandwagon.

There are now nearly 54,000 LEED certified or registered projects in the U.S. spanning some 7.8 billion square feet. The trend will likely continue as commercial owners plan to invest an estimated $960 billion globally between 2013 and 2023 on greening their existing built infrastructure, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. The environmental benefits of green building are clear in terms of creating energy efficiency, improving air and water quality, and conserving natural resources. But, if environmental factors weren’t enough incentive, there is more research proving that green office space can also have a significant impact on quality of life and employee productivity.

1. More productive employees

Green offices generally offer better air quality and more exposure to natural daylight, which can be key factors in boosting employees’ workplace satisfaction, concentration, health, and overall productivity. In addition to enhancing productivity, green spaces can help to reduce absence due to illness and even reduce company health care costs. 

There is also a growing paper trail documenting the positive impact of green office space. In particular, studies on LEED-certified buildings are demonstrating increased recruitment and retention rates and increased productivity benefits for employers. Some of the research highlighted by the U.S. Green Building Council includes:

  • Companies that adopt more rigorous environmental standards have an average of 16% higher labor productivity than non-green firms.
  • Research into the health effects of ergonomic design have established a link between improved lighting design and a 27% reduction in the incidence of headaches.
  • In terms of health care costs, building retrofits that improved the indoor environment of a building resulted in reductions of communicable respiratory diseases by 9-20%, allergies and asthma by 18-25%, and non-specific health and discomfort effects by 20-50%.

Companies are increasingly connecting the dots between the physical environment and employee productivity. But, that doesn’t mean that companies need to make a huge investment in a complete retrofit or redesign of their space. Even small changes to a space can deliver tangible results. For example, a recent Reuters article pointed to research that shows that even adding something as simple as potted plants can increase productivity by 15%.

2. Higher rents and competition

Finding a payback on green office space related to staffing is another compelling argument for commercial owners to invest in green space, as well as justifying paying higher rents for leased space in green buildings. Brokers should be sure to emphasize these benefits during space tours, and emphasize it as a competitive advantage. 

A recent report from the World Green Building Council offers tips on how businesses can measure the health, well-being, and productivity of their own buildings. The report aims to address one of the key challenges for employers, which is to quantify the impact of the physical workplace on employee productivity through data-driven measurements.

As the competition for talent continues to heat up in the improving economy, green office space will weigh more heavily in employee recruitment and retention. In 2005, about 2% of all non-residential building projects were green compared to an estimated 40-48% today, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. This change is further proof that the novelty of green space is rapidly disappearing as green buildings become a more established part of the commercial real estate marketplace. reen space is a quality that workers not only want, but rather expect as a standard part of their workplace, especially among a new generation of millennials workers. The landlords that do not offer these qualities will soon be at a disadvantage in attracting top tenants.

Billy Fink
Billy Fink
Billy Fink is a former member of the VTS team. Subscribe to the VTS blog: https://blog.vts.com/
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