The latest research has found that green building design features are having positive impacts from a social, health and financial perspective. A recent report by the World Green Building Council found that occupants in offices that have adopted green features are healthier, happier and less likely to take sick days.

Environmental improvements, employer benefits 

Research has highlighted a few tactics that help to create a healthy environment for office workers: allowing individual employees to set their own in-office temperatures; having an abundance of natural light entering the office; and ensuring that most of the air that enters into the office is fresh rather than recycled.

“Another key ingredient is using materials and products that are healthy and that don’t give off toxic gases which are bad for our health,” explains Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). “Major steps forwards have been made in creating products that have reduced or eliminated harmful chemicals, or that use natural ingredients. The paint industry, for example, has made huge progress in the last ten years by offering low solvent or solvent-free options.”

There are a number of benefits to be had for a conscientious employer who takes up occupancy in a certified green building. “Employers are always looking for the best talent, and younger employees now have a different perspective on how and where they want to work,” Mueller says. “Young professionals expect to work in places that are healthy and environmentally responsible. By occupying a green building, you attract the best talent and you have better employee retention.” 

Operational efficiency

The way that a building is operated plays a key role in optimizing a reduction in energy usage and carbon emissions. Occupant engagement and cooperation is imperative. 

“Young professionals expect to work in places that are healthy and environmentally responsible. By occupying a green building, you attract the best talent and you have better employee retention.” 

“It’s important to manage the occupant behvaiour because unless the occupants start to adopt different behaviours, you hit a wall and can’t get to that next level of cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” explains Roger Johnson, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Real Estate, TD Bank Group. “But, we find that when occupants know what their consumption is, and when they see how they can effect it, we do actually start to see a change in behaviours.”

Commercial real estate taking a lead 

Canada’s commercial real estate industry really is setting an example and playing a leading role in green building. The new green buildings that are being constructed are making employees happier and healthier, at the same time as cutting carbon emissions and fighting climate change. 

The billions of dollars of pension funds being invested in green buildings are generating significant returns. Buildings that achieve the LEED green building certification are proving to be a particular success. 

“It proves the point that green buildings are not only good for the environment, they also yield better financial results,” says Johnson “You can’t build a building any more and it expect it to be well occupied if it doesn’t have a LEED certification; the days when developers considered whether or not to build LEED are well in the past.”