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Building the Business Case: A WorldGBC Report

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The World Green Building Council report, Building the Business Case: Health, Well-being and Productivity in Green Offices, shows the global momentum behind green buildings that are healthy and marks a key milestone in its 'Better Places for People' campaign. It addresses questions on whether a financial value can be derived from green buildings that are believed to mainly benefit the environment.

Aims of the Report

Through its global network of 70 Green Building Councils, the WGBC is seeing significant momentum in global action to create healthy, green buildings, through increased interest in healthy building principles and the health and well-being credits in existing green building certification programme. The report aims to build further momentum by sharing some pioneering projects and the impact they have made.

It throws light on

  • Who is doing what on health, wellbeing, and productivity in buildings
  • Where the market is and where it's going
  • Seven geographically-dispersed case studies showing that companies large and small are seeing specific business benefits in healthy, green buildings
  • Seven spotlights on specific countries, companies, and research leaders

The Framework

The WGBC has put in place, a three-pillar framework for individuals to assess and quantify the health, well-being and productivity of the people in their building, and therefore, the buildings themselves.

Environment

Measure eight features of a green workplace to determine how they affect its occupants. Each element can be measured objectively and assessed in light of a green building rating system and building code.

Experience

Survey occupants to match the measures of the environmental features with how occupants feel about their workplace and whether they feel the environment supports or detracts from their well-being and productivity.

Economics

Measure five economic factors, likely already collected at a corporate level and/or by HR staff, and track these over time as improvements are made to the office environment.

8 Features of a Green Office

The report has defined 8 features that make for a green, and thereby, healthier office:

  • Indoor Air Quality & Ventilation
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Daylighting & Lighting
  • Noise & Acoustics
  • Interior Layout & Active Design
  • Biophilia & Views
  • Look & Feel
  • Location & Access to Amenities

Each of these attributes have been found to have a profound impact on performance of the employees, as corroborated by scientifically designed metrics.

Case Studies

The report features case studies on seven organizations that are proactively working towards creating green, healthy offices. Among the seven, six are green-certified while the other incorporates several green features in its building.

Case Study on Saint-Gobain

Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed's new North American headquarters, located in Malvern, Pennsylvania, is the subject of this case study. The LEED Platinum certified office (Core & Shell and Commercial Interior) was designed to be a living laboratory to test the company's building performance products. Spread over 277,000 sq.ft., it has the capacity to accommodate more than 800 employees with 116 collaborative spaces, out of which, 68 can seat six people or even more.

Points of Action

  • 25% increase in daylighting
  • 92% of the office with outdoor views
  • Fitness centre, pond, outdoor work spaces, 1.3 miles of walking trails
  • Stairwells have views of the outdoors making these spaces more attractive compared to elevators, and encouraging physical activity throughout the day

Findings

Saint-Gobain found an exponential increase in performance and productivity of their sales support call centre employees in the new building as against the old one.

  • 97% increase in the average weekly number of sales-generated leads
  • 101% increase in the average weekly number of leads per call
  • 150% increase in the collaborative meeting space hours booked

The Way Forward

Saint-Gobain's team of building scientists is collaborating with the University of Oregon to assess the impact of the building's design on the occupant experience. A pre-occupancy survey has already been conducted in the former office; The post-occupancy survey is slated to end in December 2016. This survey covers all aspects of occupant perception as outlined in the Framework. It will measure factors such as indoor air quality as well as thermal, acoustic and visual comfort.

Call to Action

Through this report, the WGBC hopes that businesses, building owners, designers and developers will be inspired by the case studies and draw from their success, as evidenced by the increase in health and well-being of their buildings' occupants. It calls on the community at large, to take action and unlock the business benefits of creating Better Places for People.

Read the full report

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