News Brief

Attention, Employers: Green Design Tied to Fewer Sick Days

Increased worker health and productivity offers a strong financial incentive for employers to adopt green design features, according to a recent report.

Comparing Financial Outcomes and Worker Happiness

By comparing widely used financial metrics against physical conditions and worker perceptions, organizations can form a more complete picture of how design features are affecting their bottom lines.

Source: World Green Building Council
The World Green Building Council recently released a new toolkit to help businesses identify which aspects of their buildings may be detracting from the productivity of their employees—and consequently affecting their bottom lines.

Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices” identifies seven top metrics that building owners widely use but don’t often put in the context of their buildings’ performance. These include absenteeism, staff turnover, revenue breakdown, medical costs, medical complaints, and physical complaints. By conducting an occupant perception study and assessing physical conditions in the office—like air quality, access to views, and acoustical comfort—owners can begin to understand the relationships between the space, the employees, and their output, according to the report.

The report also compiles evidence to support the idea that human benefits are derived from green design, which could help architects and sustainability consultants make the business case for the design features that they know will bring well-being benefits. The following are drawn from various studies to demonstrate the impact that design features have on staff costs:

  • Air-quality improvements are estimated to increase productivity 8%–11%.
  • An employee’s performance is likely impacted if air temperatures differ significantly from a baseline between 70°F and 73°F; performance can drop as much as 10% at a high of 86°F or a low of 59°F.  
  • A 66% drop in performance for a ‘memory for prose’ task was observed in one study when participants were exposed to different types of background noise, emphasizing the importance of acoustical comfort.

Published November 3, 2014

Pearson, C. (2014, November 3). Attention, Employers: Green Design Tied to Fewer Sick Days. Retrieved from

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November 11, 2014 - 11:14 am

I do site selection all the time and am always talking about daylighting, fresh air, etc. Sometimes it falls on deaf ears, and sometimes people really "get it". The more data we can show, the better! Thanks for this article. I will repost it to my blog at if that is OK