Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018!
SHRM board member David Windley discusses how unconscious bias can derail workplace diversity efforts.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Studies show working in a green-certified building has its benefits
When evaluating a job offer, there's more to consider than salary and health care benefits. New research suggests that working in a green-certified building could improve productivity, job performance and overall well-being.
A series of new studies, led by Harvard University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, found that occupants of high-performing green buildings showed higher cognitive function scores, fewer sick-building symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than workers in high-performing buildings without green certification.
"One thing employees might not be thinking about, but should, is their workspace," said Joe Allen, assistant professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health and co-author of the report. The studies, he said, "found that green certification, thermal conditions and lighting influenced worker perception of their space as well as their cognitive function. Good companies know the value of providing a healthy workspace. Healthy buildings are a recruiting tool, after all."
A "high-performing building" is one that meets the standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, which promotes energy efficiency and good indoor air quality in buildings. A "green-certified" building is one that not only is high-performing but also meets the U.S. Green Building Council's standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
The studies, released Nov. 25, 2016, surveyed 109 office workers during 2015 and 2016 across 10 high-performing office buildings in five climactically different U.S. cities—Boston, Denver, San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles.
"[The studies] suggest that if you work in a green-certified building, you're likely to sleep better and feel better—which can then improve how well you perform at work," said John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer at United Technologies, an aerospace company based in Hartford, Conn., which commissioned the study.
[Need to learn more about
Talent Acquisition & Retention? Speakers at the 2017 SHRM
Annual Conference & Exposition are
exploring these topics.]
What is a "green" building? The green list put together by Newsweek suggests it's a building that keeps its pollution levels to a minimum. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program suggests it's a building that's well-ventilated and where the water is toxin-free. Some environmental organizations say it's a building that leaves the smallest carbon "footprint" it can by conserving energy and recycling.
"We make every effort to heat, cool and light our offices with the minimal amount of energy needed and use building controls to ensure these systems are only on when we need them," said Anthony Ravitz, head of real estate and workplace services at Google, which was awarded a LEED gold certification for its San Francisco office. "We're excited about this certification because it means we're on the right track with our approach to building environmentally sound offices.
"All the paints, sealants, adhesives, carpet and furniture we purchased for the San Francisco office had the lowest possible levels of VOCs [volatile organic compounds] and formaldehyde, both of which have adverse effects on indoor air quality and long-term health," Ravitz said. "We also looked for sustainable materials that are locally manufactured, high in recycled content and free of environmentally harmful materials."
Public institutions—such as libraries and universities—have tended to take the lead on creating green buildings, but the private sector is following suit. For instance, the corporate headquarters of Pittsburgh's Sota Construction Services won a platinum-level certification by the LEED committee. One thing Sota did was install heating and cooling systems that rely on radiant energy, which greatly reduces the amount of air movement through the systems, thus conserving energy.
The studies found that, compared with those working in non-green-certified buildings, occupants of green-certified buildings had, on average:
Since many employees spend a majority of their time working inside a building, it makes sense that job applicants increasingly consider a building's green certification when interviewing. The workplace environment could contribute to his or her overall health, personal performance, level of engagement and accomplishment.
Michael Molinski is a Los Angeles-based economist and former retirement editor at Fidelity Investments.
Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Your session has expired. Please log in again before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies