We've been talking a lot lately about green building practices and how these can help the environment while also saving businesses money. One aspect we haven't yet focused on is the fact that there is evidence these structures contribute to a more productive, healthy workplace.
Researchers at Michigan State University recently surveyed two groups of workers who moved from conventional facilities that were not "green" to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED-certified) buildings that featured energy efficiency improvements, sustainable construction materials and other features intended to promote public health. What they found is that in both cases, the companies experienced reduced absenteeism and other issues that affect worker productivity.
Among other improvements, the survey found that employees experienced lower rates of depression, suffered fewer complications from asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and had reduced levels of stress and anxiety in their new work environments.
Overall, workers were expected to spend 1.75 more hours in the office because of the LEED certification improvements than if they had remained in their previous locations.
"These preliminary findings indicate that green buildings may positively affect public health," stated the researchers in their report, published in the American Journal of Public Health and reported on by healthy living site Care2.com.
LEED certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council to structures that are developed using sustainable methods and materials. Buildings are given silver, gold and platinum status based on the degree to which they pursue these efficiency standards. The two buildings in this study were silver and platinum LEED-certified.