Bond University’s Institute of Sustainable Development & Architecture – has just completed a study that shows how ‘green buildings’, are not only good for the environment; they’re also good for the people working in them.
According to the researchers – Institute Director Professor George Earl and Senior Research Assistant Ann Murugan – the study showcases that ‘green buildings’ outdid ‘non-green’ offices in all aspects of satisfaction, with people in green office buildings happier both with the office space overall and the features within it.
The Institute of Sustainable Development & Architecture compiled a study comparing satisfaction and health amongst staff working in ‘green and non-green’ commercial office buildings with a survey that questioned 351 people working in 10 green office buildings and 159 people working in 11 non-green office buildings.
In this study, ‘green’, refers to offices that have a Green Star certification in accordance with Green Building Council Australia’s rating system (www.gbca.org.au). Green buildings often use fewer construction materials most of which are recycled, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly in nature – recyclable as well.
They consume less energy and water during operation, are far more sympathetic to the local environment and fauna, and are easier to reuse at the end of their lifecycle Senior Researcher Ann Murugan believes that the findings showcase how ‘green buildings’ provide, ‘tangible and real’, benefits for not only the environment, but also for the employees who work inside them.
“What was interesting about this study is how it showcases that through the use of smart design and environmentally friendly materials a space is created that is more conducive for employee comfort,” Ms Murugan said.
“This improvement in employee comfort, markedly decreased instances of ill-health in green buildings when compared directly to non-green buildings, with numbers showing a 90 percent drop in instances of asthma and a 50 percent fall in those complaining of fatigue.
Institute Director – Professor George Earl, is an avid supporter of ‘green buildings’, feeling that the myriad, often imperceptible differences that their design contributes to in creating a worker-friendly environment, has benefits for an organisation that go beyond having a lesser impact on the planet.
“For any business, financial considerations often run at the heart of their strategy and what is interesting is that from this angle alone, creating a green environment in the office is worth pursuing due to the potential to increase staff productivity; because the simple fact is, happy workers make productive workers,” Professor Earl said.
“Green buildings’ create a space that improves morale, raises productivity by eliminating negative aspects within the working environment and assists in eliminating many of the causes of occupational illnesses that afflict employees; these are all important facets when you consider that many people spend more time in their office than their own home.”
Bond University’s Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture was the first educational institution in Australia to achieve a 6 Star Green Star – Education PILOT Certified Rating for design by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). It has also been awarded a host of other notable national and international building sustainability awards.
According to Professor Earl this is indicative of the Institutes philosophy to be at the forefront of the ‘green revolution’, by creating a centre that exemplifies the best practice design, development and management programs it teaches its students. This is in addition to it being at the forefront of integrating these aspects with cutting-edge environmental planning.
“Our aim at – the Institute of Sustainable Development & Architecture is to integrate these aspects and showcase in practice for our students, how it can benefit not just the planet, but the individuals, families, workers and communities who inhabit our buildings,” Professor Earl said.
These facets all contribute to the argument that ‘green buildings’ not only contribute to a happier and healthier planet but also to happier and healthier people – and for developers it may prove beneficial to incorporate ‘green building’ elements into their future projects.
INSTITUTE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT & ARCHITECTURE
The Institute of Sustainable Development & Architecture at Bond University is one of Australia’s leading integrated academic institutions adopting a holistic approach to learning across both of these fields. The Institute comprises the Mirvac School of Sustainable Development and the Soheil Abedian School of Architecture.
Bond University’s Centre for Sustainable Healthy Communities is a collaborative epicentre for innovative research fusing a unique blend of sustainable and healthy living interests between the Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture and the Faculty of Health Science & Medicine (also at Bond University). The Centre further provides students with direct access to current research in the design, development and management of sustainable, liveable communities.
21 September 2011