The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has launched a major global project that aims to define the health and productivity benefits of green office buildings around the world, and encourage better informed investment decisions.

Based on studies that have found that there is up to 11 per cent gains in productivity from improved ventilation, and up to 23 per cent gains in productivity from improved lighting design, the project puts forward the idea that even modest improvements to staff health and productivity can dramatically improve organisational profitability.

This is especially so as 85 per cent of a company’s costs are spent on salaries and benefits.

However, challenges remain in attempting to measure health and productivity outcomes, and attaching financial value to them.

The WorldGBA project therefore aims to establish a common way of capturing these benefits, while providing best practice guidance on the type of green building features – such as daylighting, ventilation and indoor office environments – that enhance them.

The results are expected to better inform investment decisions, and improve employee recruitment and retention for businesses.

“While there is a growing body of research that firmly supports the connections between sustainable buildings and improved health, productivity and learning outcomes of those who occupy them, this evidence is yet to inform investment decisions in the same way as traditional financial metrics,” says Jane Henley, CEO of WorldGBC.

“This project aims to identify the metrics that will support investment in greener buildings.”

The corporate sponsors for the project are Jones Lang LaSalle, Lend Lease and Skanska. The Green Building Councils of Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States and Colombia are also partnering on the project.

The project builds upon the WorldGBC’s report, The Business Case for Green Building, which was published in March 2013 and summarised existing research into the health benefits of sustainable buildings. It acknowledged that more work was needed to build the evidence base, and translate academic research into information that could be used to inform business decisions.

The steering committee, which will meet monthly to provide strategic guidance on the project, will consist of:

  • Miles Keeping (Chair), Deloitte Real Estate
  • Vivian Loftness, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ché Wall, Flux Consultants
  • Claudia Hamm, Jones Lang LaSalle
  • Duncan Young, Lend Lease
  • Staffan Haglind, Skanska
  • Dr. Fiona Adshead, independent advisor
  • Mark Nicholls, independent advisor
  • Hong Kong Green Building Council
  • John Alker, UK Green Building Council
  • Roger Limoges, US Green Building Council
  • Michelle Malanca, World Green Building Council
  • Robert Lam, Wong & Ouyang

The technical committee, which will have a ‘hands-on’ role in researching and producing report content, includes experts from around the world:

  • Dave Richards, Arup
  • Andy Dengle, BRE
  • Dr Chun-Ping GAO, Building and Construction Authority of Singapore
  • Neil Billett, Buro Happold
  • Rebecca Pearce, CBRE
  • Judith Heerwagen, General Services Administration
  • Richard Francis, Monomoy Company
  • Eddy Van Eenoo, SGS
  • Ashok Nathwani, Sydney University
  • Bill Browning, Terrapin Consulting
  • Prof Andrew Thatcher, University of the Witswatersrand

The final report is expected to be released in Autumn 2014.