For many people, a nice work environment can help take the edge off the demands of the job. But what happens when green features are added to a work environment’s list of amenities?
Two preliminary studies led by researchers at Michigan State University indicate that the greenness of a building – one highly rated through a U.S. Green Building Council certification program – may contribute to reductions in absenteeism and work hours lost to asthma, respiratory allergies, and stress. A building’s greenness also may be a factor in increasing employees’ reports of improved productivity, according to the studies, whose results were published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
The studies examined the effects of improved indoor environmental quality among office workers who moved from conventional buildings to green buildings. One study focused on 56 workers, the other on 207. with data gathered via worker surveys about absenteeism and productivity in both settings.
Absentee hours due to the above-mentioned health problems averaged 1.12 in the conventional buildings and 0.49 in the green buildings; productivity also improved after the workers moved into the green buildings, the studies’ preliminary findings showed. The researchers said they would continue to track the workers’ responses to their green-building environments, in part to determine whether perceived improvements in absenteeism and productivity are the employees’ response to the fact that their behavior is being studied – a response known as the Hawthorne effect – or because the potential health benefits of their new office environments are indeed having positive effects.