Office Design

Green Facilities Management Linked to Higher Productivity

David Spence
May 19th, 2014

Why Your Facilities Should Be Greener

They’re recycling, keeping careful track of electricity use and choosing green vendors to decrease their carbon footprint and better protect the earth.

As it turns out, green facilities management is not only putting less wear and tear on the earth, it’s helping workers do their jobs better, too. Here’s how.

Workers are Healthier

Several studies have shown how sustainability has increased companies’ productivity. One conducted by Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design, and Construction was written about in FacilitiesNet.

Researchers examined the effect of two different working environments—a regular office, versus a sustainable one— on two groups of workers.

When they moved from the former to the latter, absenteeism due to allergies and asthma dropped, as did the cases of allergies and asthma altogether.

The same was true for absenteeism due to depression and stress (both of which also dropped after the transition to the greener building.)

They’re More Productive

According to UCLA’s Allison Hewitt, a study headed by the California university looked at organizations that “voluntarily adopt international ‘green’ practices and standards.” Its findings?

Workers at these companies were more productive than their peers by 16 percent.

In 1986, the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company also saw greater productivity from its drafting engineers when it updated the lighting system.

Previously, the light caused an “indirect glare” on their desks that reduced visibility for the workers.

When it was replaced with more efficient task lighting that was configured to remove the problem, productivity increased by 13.2 percent. The average time needed for completing a drawing also decreased from 6.93 to 6.15 hours.

They’re More Loyal and Collaborative

The UCLA study also reported that workplace collaboration and company loyalty were promoted by adopting these green standards.

The International Organization for Standardization’s 14001 certification, for example,

required the “educating employees about a firm’s environmental commitment.”

It involved having “employees…work together across departments to reduce the organization’s environmental impact.”

As a result , workers had a stronger connection to both their company and their coworkers.

They’re More Comfortable

In the early ‘90s, when West Bend Mutual Insurance Company built a new headquarters, it created an environment that each worker—even those seated in the open-office areas—could customize for their own comfort.

How was this possible?

According to a report on green buildings from the Rocky Mountain Institute, “Radiant heaters and vents are built directly into their furniture and controlled by a panel on their desks. The control panel also provides direct control of task lighting and white-noise levels.”

The increase in productivity was similar to that found in the more recent UCLA study. West Bend Mutual Insurance also saw productivity growth of 16 percent, thanks to these control panels, as well as the other energy-efficient features of the new building.

(For example, these individual heating and lighting systems were also motion-activated, which helped save on electricity costs. Overall, costs dropped from $2.16 per square foot to $1.32.)

In sum, going green has significant benefits for a company, benefits that can help you convince a CEO that a sustainability plan is indeed a good idea.

Whether you start small by encouraging a stricter recycling program, or you go bigger and install a more energy-efficient lighting system, you can help increase your coworkers’ efficiency and do good for the environment in one fell swoop.

If you need some ideas, check out some of our posts on sustainability.

From <a href=”photo%20credit: p.Gordon via photopin cc“>installing better lighting in your office to practicing corporate social responsibility, there are several ideas that can get you started.

Good luck!

photo credit: p.Gordon via photopin cc