Green buildings may lead to greater productivity at work

By now, many people are aware of the benefits of energy efficiency: Cheaper utility bills, fewer carbon dioxide emissions and greater equity for homes being put on the market. But a new study from Michigan State University (MSU) reveals that going green may have another, mental perk to it – specifically, that green buildings can reduce stress and promote greater productivity.

According to green news outlet SmartPlanet, the MSU survey studied 263 employees in two groups, one of which worked in conventional offices and the other in a building with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The findings showed that individuals in the latter group reported greater instances of productivity and fewer cases of stress-caused absenteeism.

In comparing and contrasting the mental habits of the two groups of employees, MSU researchers found the following:

  • Average amount of time workers suffered from stress and depression in a month dropped from 20.21 hours to 14.06
  • Employees working in the green buildings felt 2.18 percent more productive while those in the conventional offices felt 0.80 percent less productive in their work environment
  • Fewer cases of employees not going to work because of allergies or sickness led to 1.75 gained work hours for the year
  • Mean hours of employees calling out from work because of stress or depression fell from 0.93 to 0.47 hours per month.

"These preliminary findings indicate that green buildings may positively affect public health," wrote the study's authors.

Although additional funding is needed for the study to continue, the initial results show that the better quality of air, light and ventilation offered by green buildings has a physiological and psychological benefit for people.

Homeowners in Maryland interested in applying these kinds of green sensibilities to their houses are encouraged to meet with Maryland home inspectors for an energy audit, which can help identify and correct sources of potential energy waste around the home.