Energy efficiency for greater productivity?

Can green buildings improve office productivity  16000646 800510895 0 0 14089703 300

The benefits of greater energy efficiency tend to be touted as environmental - for instance saving on resources and sparing the atmosphere from harmful carbon emissions. As well as this, it's seen as being cost effective through the direct effect of saving money on electricity prices and bills.

However, could energy efficiency also improve productivity in the workplace?

According to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) that's exactly what can happen. The GBCA offers Green Star ratings and certifications to a number of institutions such as hospitals, universities, other public buildings and more. According to the GBCA, more environmentally friendly and efficient buildings provide a flow-on effect which can boost public sector productivity by nearly $2 billion a year.

"One of the most effective ways to boost the productivity and performance of people is to improve the quality of their working environments," said the GBCA’s chief operating officer, Robin Mellon.

"Even a one per cent productivity improvement – equating to just five minutes a day – can mean nearly 20 hours of additional productive working time over the course of a year.  Multiply that by the hourly rate of each person and you can quickly see the returns."

Examples of Australian success include a Green Star retrofit in a Melbourne office building, which spurred a nine per cent increase in the average typing speed of its secretaries and a seven per cent increase in lawyers' billing ratios - even though there was a 12 per cent reduction in average hours worked per month.

As well as this, a survey of the occupants of the City of Melbourne's Council House 2 discovered that after moving into a Green Star certified building, staff productivity improved by 10.9 per cent - something which equates to yearly savings of around $2 million.

Due to the potential for such savings which could benefit Australian individuals, businesses, communities and even the nation's economy as a whole, the GBCA is calling upon the government to embrace green and energy efficient building strategies.

The GBCA has provided a three-point plan which it believes will provide Australia with the level of change and evolution it needs to thrive. It asks the government to provide visionary leadership, retrofit and improve existing buildings and move beyond buildings to communities and cities, in order for a more efficient, productive and prosperous Australia.

Posted by Charlie Moore