Does a green workplace make employees more productive, as environmental sustainability experts have long argued? Commercial real estate services firm JLL created a program and online tool called Green + Productive™ Workplace to find out, which ties green office space investments to employee productivity gains. The results show that some green practices improve productivity more than others.
"Contrary to popular perception, not all green offices increase productivity," explains Simone Skopek, Operations Manager, Energy and Sustainability Services, JLL. "Shrinking your office space can reduce heating and cooling costs -- but lead to over-crowding or excessive noise. As beneficial as energy savings can be, green investments create exponentially greater value when they also improve employee wellness and productivity. What works is a holistic approach that tracks metrics for both sustainability and productivity."
Challenging the notion that green offices automatically lead to greater productivity, the Green + Productive Workplace tool compiles scores for both sustainability and productivity measures. These scores are benchmarked against other corporate scores, and also against the Dow Jones Sustainability Index criteria for an organization's corporate real estate. Using the scores, the tool can pinpoint offices and specific activities in need of improvement, and establish a baseline to re-assess the offices every year to maximize their use of space, reduce natural-resource consumption, provide an efficient workplace and demonstrate proof of corporate social responsibility -- meanwhile improving employee engagement, wellness and productivity.
"Green" scores rate the use of energy, water, waste and other resources. "Productive" scores assess factors known to influence employee productivity and engagement, including:
- thermal comfort
- indoor air quality
- access to natural light
- task lighting and computer screen glare reduction
- visual resting spots and references to nature (e.g., plants, artwork, decor, landscape views)
- sound control
- office layouts that correlate to the types of work being performed, including employee interactions, collaboration and "head-down" private space
- proximity to bicycle stands, workout and shower facilities, and health amenities and programs
- location in a "high-walkability" neighborhood with access to transit and amenities
- ergonomic furniture
The Green + Productive™ Workplace assessment flags potential energy savings and productivity gains created by each activity in one or more offices. In one instance, a JLL client found more than $160,000 in productivity gains in a single facility by adopting best practices to improve acoustics, ergonomics, flexible workspaces and hoteling.
While studies have long suggested a connection between green workspaces and productivity, the World Green Building Council is undertaking a major research project to further explore this relationship. JLL is among the partners of the landmark project, which will build on existing information -- including JLL's Green + Productive Workplace benchmarking -- to propose green workplace best practices and standard metrics for implementing, measuring and quantifying health, wellbeing and productivity. The study will be released in October 2014.
JLL's Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) group helps commercial building owners and occupiers improve the energy and environmental performance of buildings. Last year alone, JLL helped clients reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 12 million metric tons, saving more than $2.5 billion in energy costs. Currently, the firm provides sustainability services to 334 global clients and 158 clients in the Americas. JLL has completed more than 400 LEED projects globally and is the world's top employer of LEED Accredited Professionals and Green Associates. Additional information about JLL's corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives can be found at http://www.jll.com/sustainability.
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual fee revenue of $4 billion, JLL has more than 200 corporate offices and operates in 75 countries worldwide. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 3 billion square feet and completed $99 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2013. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $48.0 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit www.jll.com.