Green buildings were initially designed with environmental benefits in mind, but they’re also playing a key role in improving employee health and wellbeing. Cognitive scores among employees were 61% higher on their first day working in a green building and 101% higher on the second day, a study by Harvard found. By improving air quality, energy-efficiency, noise and moisture levels, and lighting, sustainable buildings can provide employees with a healthier working environment, which ultimately boosts engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction.

 Energy-efficient buildings

 Energy-efficient buildings can improve comfort for employees, and are cheaper to run. In particular, insulating concrete forms — or ICF buildings — are extremely durable, quiet, and energy-efficient. An ICF builder combines expanded polystyrene (EPS), a powerful insulating material, together with steel-reinforced concrete, another extremely strong building material. As a result, ICF buildings provide better insulation, which reduces the loss of heat and cooled air, and offers 20-25% savings in annual heating and cooling costs. ICF buildings also ensure increased comfort and better air quality, since they’re basically air tight. Pollen and other allergens and irritants are prevented from entering.

 Biophilic features

Office employees spend nearly 90% of their time indoors. Yet, urban environments devoid of nature are associated with increased levels of stress. Fortunately, biophilic features can bring employees closer to nature, reduce their stress levels, and improve both productivity and creativity in the workplace. For example, living walls consist of entire walls of living plants in order to absorb pollutants and purify the air, improve acoustics, and aid brain function and productivity in employees. 

 Relax and unwind

Green buildings can also be built to minimize work-related stress among employees and improve mental health. Vacant rooms have been converted into wellness spaces where employees can do yoga, Pilates or meditation. Some spaces even contain massage chairs, on-site spa services, and sleeping pods. By offering employees a dedicated room to relax and unwind, they can relieve stress and become more productive upon returning to work. Millennials are driving the demand for workplaces to facilitate self-care — over 40% of this generation want the ability to carve out “me time” that allows them to relax and restore during the work day. 

Sustainable buildings create a working environment that prioritizes the mental and physical health and wellbeing of employees. Energy efficiency, biophilic features and wellness spaces are some key features of the sustainable building movement.