From installing indoor plants to energy efficient air conditioning and lighting, greening an office space can have many benefits. Not only can even small changes help the environment, they can benefit employees and positively impact your business’ bottom line too.
With six in ten Australians wanting action on climate change urgently and investors focussed on sustainability, there is a growing chorus of companies embracing the need to create sustainable workspaces and office buildings.
Here we discuss the benefits of office green spaces and having a sustainable office environment.
Increased productivity and creativity in green work environments
Green office spaces are not just good for the environment or aesthetics, they can have positive impacts on employee productivity, creativity and job satisfaction.
A study from Harvard University looked at how ventilation, chemicals (found in common office equipment like chairs and carpets) and carbon dioxide impacted workers’ cognitive functions.
The study found that workers in greener office spaces had significantly higher cognitive functioning scores when doing such tasks as responding to a crisis or developing strategy, compared to those in “non-green” spaces.
Workers performed best when their office spaces were well-ventilated and registered below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon emissions.
Studies have also found access to natural light has also been cited as an important factor for employee satisfaction and many office buildings are now prioritising this for all employees, not just those managers with a corner office.
Not only can greener spaces help productivity, they can improve health outcomes too.
Improved health and wellbeing in sustainable workplaces
Employee wellbeing has become an increasingly important focus for many organisations, in a bid to improve staff retention and boost talent attraction and performance.
Making workplaces more sustainable has become a key initiative to improve employee wellbeing because of the associated mental and physical health benefits.
Poor lighting, ventilation and the substances in synthetic carpets, flooring and office chairs has been associated with more sickness, irritation and stress.
Introducing office plants can help to purify the air from some of the chemicals commonly found in offices, like formaldehyde, and help to reduce employee stress levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic also reinforced the importance of improving air quality and ventilation in workplaces to reduce the risk of transmitting sicknesses.
Many corporations also encourage employees to more actively travel to work with end-of-trip facilities like secure bike parking spaces and showers.
Not only does this help reduce the number of cars on the road, it also promotes physical activity to improve individual health and wellness.
Attracting and retaining talent with sustainable office spaces
With so many Australians backing action on climate change, there is a growing awareness about the role individual companies are taking in the bid to reduce carbon emissions.
Creating a greener office space is one way that companies can demonstrate to their employees that they are genuinely committed to becoming more sustainable.
A study from the Australian Catholic University found that environmentally sustainable companies had a better chance of retaining employees because they believed their workplace was aligned with their personal green values.
Many companies also experience benefits with their customers from creating more sustainable office spaces and practices as consumers look to align themselves with greener brands. Businesses seen as environmentally friendly can develop a more positive reputation and appeal to environmentally aware clients and business partners.
Creating innovative green practices can also help to drive down costs, boost sales and give a business a competitive advantage over less environmentally friendly competitors.
Cost savings and energy efficiency in green workplaces
Creating and nurturing a greener workplace not only has benefits for employees and a company’s reputation, but it can also deliver financial benefits.
While productivity gains are not always easily quantifiable, energy efficiency can deliver a transparent bottom-line boost.
Common ways to create a more sustainable workplace include switching to more energy efficient lighting like LEDs, using recycled paper and printing double sided, reducing plastic use and putting computers and monitors on energy saving mode.
Other initiatives can include reducing business travel, prioritising digital documents over paper documents and being more mindful about office catering (choosing less meat and reducing waste).
Purchasing energy efficient appliances and encouraging employees to be mindful about energy and water use can help reduce the cost of energy and water bills.
It is estimated that customers whose buildings are certified under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) have saved 30 to 40 per cent on their energy use and a collective $1.4 billion in energy bills.
Making a positive impact on the environment with green office spaces
Green office spaces have many benefits for those who work within them and the companies that create them. However, they can also benefit society at large.
Creating more sustainable office spaces is going to be critical in the fight against catastrophic climate change.
About 40 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions are from buildings and they use approximately 40 per cent of the world’s energy and 30 per cent of the world’s drinking water.
This underscores the need and opportunity associated with greening more of Australia’s office spaces. Even for tenants who don’t own the office building itself, more sustainable practices can make a difference, with NABERS estimating half of a building’s energy use is from its tenancies.
Implementing more sustainable practices like boosting recycling, cutting water use, improving energy efficiency and printing less can help to reduce a business’s environmental footprint as well as lower their carbon emissions.
As more office spaces go green, there will be an increased appetite for developing more green buildings, which studies show are critical to tackling climate change and can even cut city temperatures.
Together, these actions will contribute to a more sustainable future.
Looking for a green office space for your business? Contact the experts at Aegis Property Group.