A working group which includes Skanska’s Polish commercial development team has produced a white paper entitled Health and Productivity in Sustainable Buildings, and the findings are specifically aimed at investors, business leaders, tenants and real estate agents.
Based on the Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices report published in 2014 by the World Green Business Council – the largest global organisation engaged in green, sustainable building – the white paper recommendations can be applied to commercial developments in major global cities.
It includes crucial information concerning the influence of sustainable buildings on health and efficiency of employees and introduces the benefits resulting from green solutions for companies, such as a decrease in absenteeism and staff turnover which, in turn, leads to an increase in efficiency. Over the long-term these factors can have a significant impact on a company’s financial results.
The idea of sustainable buildings is based on designing, developing and using them with a focus on employees’ health and with respect for the natural environment. New technologies are very important in this process as they help create buildings that significantly reduce pollution and waste emission, while also making them comfortable for employees. Research shows that factors such as: proper air temperature (22-24°C), ventilation levels adjusted to meet occupiers’ needs, proper lighting of work stations and the appropriate amount of fresh air per person, are of crucial importance in providing optimal and favourable conditions. Sustainable buildings, also known as green buildings, meet all of these requirements.
Katarzyna Zawodna, Managing Director at Skanska Property Poland said: “When discussing profits related to introducing sustainable solutions, most of us would firstly think about environmental protection and reducing the energy consumption costs. Nevertheless, the biggest advantage of green buildings is the influence on employees themselves and their comfort as well as work efficiency. In USA, sick leaves cost companies up to 2,500 USD per employee each year. Green solutions help significantly reduce the level of sick leave and drop the costs by up to 40%. The research methodology proposed in the white paper will help us illustrate the beneficial influence of our buildings on health and staff efficiency by using specific numbers.”
The 2014 World Green Building Council report was the first document in the world to propose a methodology for measuring the influence of office space on employees and the aim of the Polish initiative was to adjust the conclusions to the local market.
Chwalbińska-Kusek from engineering consultants, and members of the working group, Buro Happold, adds: “On average, we spend 90% of our time indoors, so interior environments have a great influence on both our health and wellbeing. Modern, sustainable offices are equipped with numerous solutions reducing negative effects, for example, by applying better ventilation systems, ensuring better access to natural daylight and creating relaxation zones. Our aim is to encourage the market to conduct integrated measurements that will help reflect the real influence of sustainable buildings on employees’ health and productivity”.
The white paper concludes with a list of significant engineering considerations that tenants and investors should focus on while designing office space. Among them are factors such as thermal comfort, noise, acoustics and the building’s internal configuration.