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The impact of a 'green' building on employees' physical and psychological wellbeing


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Multiple claims and some empirical findings suggest that ‘green’ buildings should be healthier (psychologically and physically) and promote greater productivity than conventional buildings. The empirical evidence in this regard over the last decade or so has been inconclusive suggesting either that the studies are flawed or that there are specific aspects of green buildings that promote wellbeing and productivity and others that do not. This study looks at a longitudinal comparison of two groups; a group that moved into South Africa’s first GreenStar-accredited building and a group that did not. Measures were taken before the move and six months later. Results demonstrated that the ‘green’ building did not produce significantly better physical or psychological wellbeing, or higher perceived productivity. These results are discussed in relation to suggestions for what design features to focus on that may produce significant results.
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The impact of a ‘green’ building on
employees’ physical and psychological
Andrew Thatchera,* and Karen Milnera
aPsychology Department, School of Human & Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg, WITS, 2050, South Africa
Abstract. Multiple claims and some empirical findings suggest that ‘green’ buildings should be healthier (psychologically and
physically) and promote greater productivity than conventional buildings. The empirical evidence in this regard over the last
decade or so has been inconclusive suggesting either that the studies are flawed or that there are specific aspects of green build-
ings that promote wellbeing and productivity and others that do not. This study looks at a longitudinal comparison of two
groups; a group that moved into South Africa’s first GreenStar-accredited building and a group that did not. Measures were
taken before the move and six months later. Results demonstrated that the ‘green’ building did not produce significantly better
physical or psychological wellbeing, or higher perceived productivity. These results are discussed in relation to suggestions for
what design features to focus on that may produce significant results.
Keywords: psychological wellbeing, physical wellbeing, GreenStar accreditation; perceived productivity; workplace indoor
environmental quality
1. Introduction
Since buildings are obviously built for human oc-
cupation it makes sense from an ergonomics perspec-
tive to focus on the occupants’ health, productivity,
and efficiency. In general terms, the relationship be-
tween improved indoor environmental quality and
increased occupant wellbeing and productivity is
well-documented in the literature [7] [8] [12] [19]
[26] [27]. Further, Baird [2] argues from a financial
perspective that it makes sense to focus on the well-
being and productivity of employees when consider-
ing building efficiency since employee salaries easily
outweigh the costs associated with building design
and building use (e.g. energy, water, waste removal,
etc.). This study investigates the claims of improved
physical and psychological wellbeing for Green
buildings in South Africa’s first GreenStar accredited
* Corresponding author:
1.1. Green buildings
Internationally there have been moves in the last
two decades to produce various voluntary bench-
marks and standards to guide the promotion, design
and operation of “green buildings”. Such certification
systems include the British Establishment Environ-
mental Assessment Method (BREEAM, from the UK,
launched in 1990), the Leadership in Energy and En-
vironmental Design (LEED, from the US, launched
in 1993), GreenStar Australia (launched in 2003),
GreenStar South Africa (launched in 2008), and the
National Australian Built Environment Rating Sys-
tem (NABERS, from Australia, launched in 2000).
These rating tools award credits for lifecycle?? ele-
ments including: management of the building site, the
choice of site and the ecology of that site (before,
during and after construction), the choice of materials,
innovation in the design (such as passive heating,
cooling, and lighting systems), water and energy use,
and how a building integrates with other human and
environmental services such as transport networks
Work 41 (2012) 3816-3823
OI: 10.3233/WOR-2012-0683-3816
IOS Press
1051-9815/12/$27.50 © 2012 – IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserve
[10]. Issues related to occupant health and productiv-
ity feature prominently in the various international
green building rating systems, usually as a dimension
referred to as indoor environmental quality, in vary-
ing degrees captures features related to employee
wellbeing, satisfaction, and productivity [11]. Based
on general studies into improving indoor environ-
mental quality these rating tools encourage building
designers to incorporate features that will improve
occupants’ wellbeing and productivity (e.g. increased
daylight, improved ventilation systems, more “fresh”
air and less recycled air, reduced glare from the sun
and artificial lighting, and reduced volatile organic
compounds - VOCs). Due to the focus on these ele-
ments it is widely believed (even actively promoted)
that green buildings are more comfortable, healthier,
and produce higher productivity levels than conven-
tional buildings. However, Heerwagen and Zagreus
[17] have noted that these claims were not always
1.2. Evaluations of the impact of Green buildings on
occupants’ health and productivity
Birt andNewsham[5] observed that there were a
limited number of detailed examinations of green
building performance available in the public domain.
While measures of productivity gains in green build-
ings are relatively well-established, the relationships
for physical and psychological wellbeing are less
well-documented. Early case studies of green build-
ings [26] produced consistent evidence that green
buildings increased productivity (in one building the
claim was for a 28% increase in productivity), a re-
duction in absenteeism, and improved building use
satisfaction levels. More recently, support for the
impact of green buildings, while still generally fa-
vourable, is more mixed. Generally, studies that re-
port on improved productivity either use absenteeism
as a proxy for productivity [33] or ask respondents to
indicate how much their work environment has im-
proved their productivity [1] [17]. The most compre-
hensive study assessing productivity directly [28]
found evidence for increased typing speed and billing
amounts, reduced absenteeism, but no perceived pro-
ductivity change. Other studies have found that ab-
senteeism rates have remained unchanged [24]. Stud-
ies that look at user satisfaction with the physical
environment generally find positive satisfaction rat-
ings for green buildings [28] [3] [9] [15] [32] How-
ever, studies have also consistently found that noise
[6] [9] [17] [24] [33], thermal comfort [9] [17]
[25][33] , and lighting conditions [1] [6] [17] [24]
were problematic in some green buildings. This lack
of consistency in the results would suggest there are
some design aspects of green buildings or some as-
pects of the work context that are more important in
determining positive reactions to the physical envi-
ronment. For example, Heerwagen [15] found sig-
nificant differences between different groups of
workers in satisfaction with the physical environment,
but only for the office workers who worked during
the day and not for shiftworkers. She found that re-
spondents across-the-board felt overworked at the
end of a work shift. Studies that draw comparisons
across a range of green buildings also produce incon-
clusive results. Abbaszadeh [1] for example com-
pared 21 “green” buildings to 160 “non-green” build-
ings and found that users were most satisfied with
thermal comfort and air quality (and least satisfied
with noise and lighting conditions). Fowler and Ra-
uch [9] examined 12 green buildings and found that
while satisfaction with the indoor environment was
generally high, noise and thermal comfort were lower
than national benchmarks. The US Green Building
Council [33] report examined 25 LEED-accredited
buildings and found that these buildings were higher
than the national average on satisfaction scores (es-
pecially on lighting) but lower than the national aver-
age for thermal comfort and noise. Leaman et al.
[22]examined 22 green buildings and 23 conventional
buildings and found that the green buildings were
rated significantly lower on thermal comfort, noise,
and some lighting conditions (i.e. glare). Paul and
Taylor [24] examined two “non-green” buildings and
a GreenStar-accredited building and found no signifi-
cant differences on satisfaction ratings, except for
thermal comfort where the green building was per-
ceived to be significantly warmer.
Part of the reason for the inconsistencies in results
is due to design differences between buildings and in
part due to methodological issues. From a methodo-
logical perspective most of the studies only assess
satisfaction with the indoor environmental quality as
a post-occupancy measure. Unfortunately, only tak-
ing a post-occupancy measure tells us very little
about what conditions were like before employees
moved into the green building. It could be that em-
ployees were already satisfied with building condi-
tions before moving into a green building. Evans [7]
called for more longitudinal designs in order to un-
derstand the relationships between people and their
wellbeing responses to the built environment. Further,
comparing green buildings to conventional buildings
on post occupancy measures may be meaningless
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because employees in different buildings may be in
different organizations, working in different indus-
tries, and doing different types of work. For example,
Paul and Taylor [25] compared a green building at
one university with two green buildings at another
university. Differences in satisfaction ratings may
have been due to the different organizational settings.
Many of the studies do not include any comparison
group or comparison groups that are not directly rele-
vant. Some of the studies draw comparisons with
national benchmark databases [1] [6] [9] [17] [33].
Only Paevere and Brown [24] draw direct compari-
sons between buildings in the same organization.
2. Methods
2.1. Procedures
The study was conducted in a large financial insti-
tution with more than 10 000 employees across the
country. The new Green Building could accommo-
date as many as 1500 staff members when fully oc-
cupied. The study design was longitudinal (Time 1
before any employees moved and Time 2 six months
after the treatment group had moved to the Green
Building) with two groups: a treatment group where
employees moved from existing buildings to the new
Green Building and a contrast group where employ-
ees stayed in their existing building (“Other”). A total
of 2525 emails were sent to two randomly selected
samples from each of these groups (approximately
1200 employees from each group). The email con-
sisted of a short covering note inviting participation
and a hyperlink to the online version of the survey.
Volunteer respondents completed the survey online
and clicked on the submit button at the end of the
survey. Clicking the submit button was considered as
consent to participate. At Time 1 there were 655
completed responses returned. Six months later 611
emails were sent to respondents who had responded
to the Time 1 survey and who had provided valid
employee numbers. At Time 2 there were 251 re-
sponses received. After matching the Time 1 respon-
dents to the Time 2 respondents based on valid em-
ployee numbers there were 240 respondents.
2.2. The Green building
The building was the first GreenStar accredited
building in South Africa and should be considered as
a test case for other green buildings in the country.
The Green building received GreenStar rating of 46
credits (45 credits are required for a four star Green-
Star rating) and 16 (out of 27; or 59% of the available
credits) credits for the Indoor Environmental Quality
dimension. The building featured a ventilation system
with a rate of fresh air intake twice the national stan-
dard, a monitoring system for CO2 levels connected
to the ventilation system, lighting systems that re-
duced flicker and were movement sensitive, interior
paints and carpeting with reduced VOC levels, and
80% of the office area had exterior views. In addition,
the Green building had a freshwater catchment sys-
tem, a “black” water treatment facility, a building
user guide, and 95% recycled steel in the main frame
of the building.
The “Other” buildings were a variety of pre-
existing office buildings which did not have a
“green” intent in their design. They pre-date the
GreenStar rating tool and therefore have no rating
information. The existing buildings did not have fresh
air ventilation and no individual control of lighting or
2.3. Sample
From the 240 respondents who responded at Time
1 and were matched to Time 2 there were 161 re-
spondents in the treatment group (Green building)
and 79 respondents in the contrast group (Other
buildings). There were 149 males and 91 females in
the sample. The respondents were from a range of
different ethnic groups. The average age of the re-
spondents was 40.85 years (with a standard deviation
of 9.97 years) and they had an average of 12.33 years
working for the organisation (with a large standard
deviation of 9.18 years). There were 66 respondents
who indicated that they had at least one chronic un-
derlying illness including asthma, high blood pres-
sure, a psychiatric disorder, and diabetes mellitus.
2.4. Measures
The first part of the survey captured biographical
information including age, gender, race, organisa-
tional level, tenure, disability, and chronic underlying
illness. In the second part of the survey the primary
variables of interest were assessed. These measures
were taken both at Time 1 and at Time 2. There are a
number of post-occupancy building surveys that have
been used in previous studies (e.g. Building User
Survey and Center for the Built Environment’s occu-
pant satisfaction survey). We chose to use separate
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measures common and independently validated in the
ergonomics and organisational psychology literature.
Psychological wellbeing was assessed using the
Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale
(WEMWBS) [30].The WEMWBS is a 14-item scale
with five response categories assessed over the past
month (i.e. none of the time, rarely, some of the time,
often, all of the time). Tennant et al. [30] reported an
internal consistency of 0.91 in a general population
sample and good criterion-related validity.
Physical wellbeing was assessed using the Sick
Building Syndrome (SBS) questions [13]. This is a
set of 15 items that assess different physical well-
being factors related to SBS on a 4-point frequency
scale over the previous month (i.e. never, 1-3 times
per month, 1-3 times per week, every day).
Perceptions of physical work conditions were as-
sessed using 14 items taken from Hedge et al. [13].
Respondents were required to indicate the frequency
of negative aspects of the work environment on a 4-
point frequency scale over the previous month (i.e.
never, 1-3 times per month, 1-3 times per week,
every day). These were treated as individual items in
the analysis.
Job satisfaction was assessed by a single item ask-
ing “Taking everything into consideration how do
you feel about your job as a whole?” (from very dis-
satisfied to very satisfied). Wanous et al. [34] ob-
served that single-item measures of job satisfaction
were parsimonious and at least as good as multiple
items in assessing global measures of job satisfaction.
Absenteeism was assessed by a single item asking
“During the last 12 months, how many days sick
leave have you taken?”
Presenteeism was assessed by a single item asking
“During the last 12 months, how many days did your
work despite being ill because you felt you had to?”
Since presenteeism was highly skewed as a variable
we followed Biron et al. [4] by dividing presenteeism
by absenteeism to produce a ratio of number of days
absent-present against number of days absent.
Perceived productivity was assessed on a single
item asking “On a scale of 0-100 percent (where
100% is full capacity), rate how well you have been
working over the last month in relation to your full
3. Results
Data were also collected on how much time re-
spondents spent in their respective buildings while at
work. These results are found in Table 1 and show no
significant differences between the Other group and
the Green Building group.
Table 1
Average time spent in the building.
Hours per day in the build-
ing 8.87 8.63
Hours per day at their desk 7.08 7.48
Days per week in the
building 4.93 5.01
As shown in Table 2 and Table 3 there were no
significant differences between Time 1 and Time 2
on measures of perceived productivity, psychological
wellbeing, physical wellbeing, job satisfaction, or
absenteeism in either group. Presenteeism was sig-
nificantly higher at Time 2 in the Green Building
group (t=1.46, p<0.01). As shown in Table 4 and
Table 5, the Other group perceived significantly
poorer lighting, more drafty conditions, an unpleasant
odour, more dusty, and increased electrostatic shocks
at Time 2. In the Green Building group the work en-
vironment was perceived as significantly better in
terms of temperature and ventilation at Time 2. How-
ever, statistically the lighting conditions were per-
ceived as poorer, the air movement was too drafty,
there was more likely to be an unpleasant odour in
the air, and it was perceived to be dustier at Time 2.
Both groups perceived working conditions to be less
noisy at Time 2.
Similarly, when the two groups are compared at
Time 1 there were almost no significant differences
between the groups. The Green Building group had
significantly higher job satisfaction (t = 2.44; p <
0.05) and a significantly higher propensity to stay in
the organisation at Time 1 (t = 3.03; p < 0.01), al-
though these differences were non-significant at Time
2. It was noticeable that the Other group experienced
significantly less dryness (t = 2.37; p < 0.05), noisi-
ness (t = 2.22; p < 0.05), and dustiness (t = 3.13; p <
0.01) at Time 1. At Time 2 these differences between
the two buildings were non-significant (suggesting
improvements for the Green Building group) but the
Other group was significantly less likely to experi-
ence electrostatic shocks ( t = 2.51; p < 0.05).
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Table 2
Comparisons of wellbeing and productivity from T1 to T2 – Other group
Variable T1 T2 t-statistic Sign.
Psychological wellbeing 3.55 3.47 0.70 NS
Physical wellbeing 2.97 2.89 0.81 NS
Job satisfaction 3.27 3.47 1.25 NS
Propensity to stay 3.07 3.19 0.71 NS
Productivity (last month) 77.51 77.92 0.12 NS
Productivity (last 2-3 months) 78.28 80.03 0.53 NS
Productivity (last 4-6 months) 80.62 80.14 0.15 NS
Productivity (last 7-12 months) 80.84 78.58 0.69 NS
Absenteeism 3.51 4.52 1.72 NS
Presenteeism 3.44 3.20 0.09 NS
Table 3
Comparisons of wellbeing and productivity from T1 to T2 – Green Building group
Variable T1 T2 t-statistic Sign.
Psychological wellbeing 3.59 3.52 1.03 NS
Physical wellbeing 3.01 2.97 0.61 NS
Job satisfaction 3.67 3.53 1.36 NS
Propensity to stay 3.40 3.26 1.39 NS
Productivity (last month) 77.20 77.15 0.02 NS
Productivity (last 2-3 months) 79.18 77.61 0.73 NS
Productivity (last 4-6 months) 79.35 77.76 0.69 NS
Productivity (last 7-12 months) 77.88 79.04 0.46 NS
Absenteeism 3.56 4.49 1.23 NS
Presenteeism 2.01 5.69 1.46 <0.01
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Table 4
Comparisons of physical work conditions from T1 to T2 – Other group
Physical environment condition T1 T2 t-statistic Sign.
Temperature too warm 2.87 3.07 1.40 NS
Temperature too cold 2.87 3.06 1.02 NS
Lighting too dim 3.53* 2.67 6.09 <0.01
Lighting too bright/glaring 3.59* 2.35 9.91 <0.01
Insufficient ventilation 2.89 3.13 1.37 NS
Too drafty 3.45* 2.46 7.16 <0.01
Too little air movement 2.90 3.09 1.10 NS
Air too dry 3.29 2.78 3.39 <0.01
Air too humid 3.60 2.49 8.72 <0.01
Distracting ambient noises 2.72 3.29* 3.14 <.010
Unpleasant odour in the air 3.32* 2.79 3.72 <0.01
Stale air 3.17 2.86 1.87 NS
Dusty air 3.33* 2.71 4.01 <0.01
Electrostatic shocks 3.55* 2.47 8.23 <0.01
* physical conditions that were better
Table 5
Comparisons of physical work conditions from T1 to T2 – Green Building group
Physical environment condition T1 T2 t-statistic Sign.
Temperature too warm 2.80 3.23* 3.55 <0.01
Temperature too cold 2.95 3.06 0.97 NS
Lighting too dim 3.37* 2.68 6.94 <0.01
Lighting too bright/glaring 3.55* 2.34 14.30 <0.01
Insufficient ventilation 2.76 3.23* 3.58 <0.01
Too drafty 3.62* 2.44 12.26 <0.01
Too little air movement 2.75 3.17* 3.16 <0.01
Air too dry 2.94 2.99 0.04 NS
Air too humid 3.69* 2.34 16.93 <0.01
Distracting ambient noises 2.37 3.48* 9.02 <0.01
Unpleasant odour in the air 3.16* 2.78 3.57 <0.01
Stale air 2.96 2.83 1.13 NS
Dusty air 2.86* 2.57 2.49 <0.05
Electrostatic shocks 3.53* 2.23 15.61 <0.01
* physical conditions that were better
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4. Discussion
Contrary to a number of the green building ac-
creditation claims, the Green Building group did not
consistently produce significantly better psychologi-
cal and physical wellbeing or perceived productivity
gains from Time 1 to Time 2. Noise levels, thermal
comfort (specifically an appropriately warm building),
ventilation levels, and air movement were all signifi-
cantly better in the Green Building at Time 2. The
findings for noise and thermal comfort were contrary
to a large proportion of the previous studies [17] [9]
[25] [33]. The improvements in ventilation and air
movement were consistent with previous research
Green Building group respondents perceived that
the lighting conditions, dust, draftiness, and odours in
their workplace had significantly worsened. The find-
ing with respect to lighting was consistent with a
good proportion of previous findings [1] [17] [20] but
the results for dust, drafts, and air quality were not.
The reduction in lighting conditions was not surpris-
ing given that the organisation struggled with the
commissioning of the advanced lighting system. The
GreenStar certification process did not impact di-
rectly on the physical and psychological wellbeing of
building occupants (although impacts may be indirect
or imperceptible – e.g. off-gassing from paints and
adhesives) in this study.
Kellert [20] refers to ‘green’ architectural design
specifications (e.g. LEED, BREEAM, GreenStar,
etc.) as being “low environmental impact design” (p.
120) that may lead to reduced environmental impact
but not to “enhancing and restoring positive contact
between people and nature [that] can foster human
well-being and productivity” (p. 122). From this we
suggest that these ‘green’ building specifications,
while better overall for the environment, may not
automatically lead to improved physical and psycho-
logical wellbeing or perceived productivity gains.
Heerwagen [14] notes specifically with regards to
indoor environmental quality in green buildings: “it’s
not how green you make it – it’s how you make it
green” (p. 353). There are several recommendations
from the literature on how to do this. Based on find-
ings from the Building User Survey, Leaman [21]
proposes that rapid responses to conditions (through
personal control over environmental conditions [14]);
focusing on discomfort alleviation; communicating
the design intent; reducing technological complexity;
and understanding the dynamics of occupation den-
sity are the key factors in ensuring employee wellbe-
ing and productivity in buildings. Heerwagen and
Hase [16] take a slightly different approach suggest-
ing that designers should focus on biophilic design
(i.e. design that connects humans to nature). This
would involve designing buildings where windows
give natural daylight and views to natural landscapes,
gathering places outdoors, and passive viewing of
nature inside buildings (e.g. water, plants, and ani-
mals). According to Heerwagen and Hase [16] bio-
philic buildings should provide refuge, water, biodi-
versity, sensory variability, biomimicry, playfulness,
and enticement. Certainly, there is a growing body of
literature supporting the idea that the incorporation of
nature into our built environment has positive wellbe-
ing benefits [18] and higher productivity [23] [31].
Study limitations include the fact that only one or-
ganisation was used and the sample size (while rea-
sonable for a longitudinal study) was relatively small.
The Time 1 measurement was taken in May/June (in
the middle of winter just before/during the transition)
and the Time 2 measurement was taken in Decem-
ber/January (in the middle of summer, six months
after relocation). It is possible that: (a) the different
times of year may mask any real underlying differ-
ences (e.g. the end of the year holidays versus the
middle of year colds); or (b) the time period of six
months may be insufficient to measure any real dif-
ferences. Heerwagen [15] for example, reported using
a nine months interval in their study of Herman Mil-
ler’s green building. Many organisational change
interventions produce feelings of uncertainty and
disorientation especially immediately preceding and
following a change intervention [29]. Employees
often find the change process itself stressful and take
time to accustomise to the change/s. Heerwagen [15]
noted that most organisations experience a drop in
productivity when workers move, so perhaps a non-
significant difference six months after a move might
be indicative of improved productivity in the future.
It could be that we have taken measurements at a
point where the advantages of the changes are now
beginning to take effect but there has not yet been
sufficient time to see improvements. Follow-up in-
vestigations are proposed.
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a ‘Green’ Buildin
on Emplo
ees’ Ph
sical 3823
... A variety of study designs were represented, including randomised controlled trials (n = 3) [21][22][23], quasi-experimental studies with two groups and no randomisation (n = 2) [27,39] and pre-experimental single group studies with a pre-test, post-test design (n = 6) [24,26,27,31,34,38]. There were also several qualitative studies (n = 7) [24,34,35,44] and mixed-methods designs (n = 4) [24,36,41], as well as cross-sectional quantitative studies (n = 2) [18,20] and a longitudinal descriptive study (n = 1) [42]. ...
... The types of workplaces represented in the included titles varied. The majority of titles related to hospitals and clinics (n = 8) [17,20,25,28,36,37,40,42,44], as well as corporate environments (n = 8) [19,23,32,[39][40][41][42]. These were followed by manufacturing and industrial workplaces (n = 4) [22][23][24]29,35], schools and universities (n = 4) [25,26,38,41] and a municipality (n = 1) [28]. ...
... Not all titles discussed outcomes. Some of the outcomes studied in the included titles were stress [18,21,24,31,34], mood [24], quality of life [24], absenteeism and presenteeism [23,39], exercise behaviours [21,23,27], coping skills [24,34], job satisfaction [18,39] and participation in activity [18,39]. ...
Full-text available
Mental health problems are one of the leading contributors to the global burden of disease. Workplaces provide a valuable and accessible setting for interventions to improve worker health. However, little is known about mental health interventions on the African continent, particularly those based in the workplace. This review aimed to identify and report on the literature about workplace-based interventions for mental health in Africa. This review followed the JBI and PRISMA ScR guidelines for scoping reviews. We searched 11 databases for qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods studies. The grey literature was included, and no language or date limits were applied. Title and abstract screening and full text review, were completed independently by two reviewers. A total of 15 514 titles were identified, of which, 26 titles were included. The most common study designs were qualitative studies (n = 7) and pre-experimental, single-group, pre-test, post-test studies (n = 6). Workers with depression, bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia, intellectual disability, alcohol and substance abuse, stress and burnout were included in the studies. The participants were mostly skilled and professional workers. A wide variety of interventions were offered, of which, most were multi-modal. There is a need to develop multi-modal interventions in partnership with stakeholders, particularly for semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
... Issues of occupant health and productivity are prevalent in the many worldwide green building rating systems, often as a factor called indoor environmental quality (IEQ), which covers elements linked to employee well-being, contentment, and productivity to differing degrees. The influence of IEQ of green buildings on inhabitants' health, well-being, and productivity is a significant area of study in occupational and public health [1], [2]. Having said that, there are less articles and findings wherein productivity and health of people from diverse type have been taken into consideration, such as green hospitals, green offices, green residential buildings. ...
... A little investment in the design process and operation of a building may have a large influence on an organization's employee productivity [3]. For example, improved ventilation systems; more fresh air, less recycled air; less glare from the sun, more sunlight, artificial lighting; and fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will result from green buildings [2], [9]. Because of the emphasis on these factors, GB s are commonly thought (and often actively marketed) to be more pleasant, healthier, and more productive than conventional ones [2]. ...
... For example, improved ventilation systems; more fresh air, less recycled air; less glare from the sun, more sunlight, artificial lighting; and fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will result from green buildings [2], [9]. Because of the emphasis on these factors, GB s are commonly thought (and often actively marketed) to be more pleasant, healthier, and more productive than conventional ones [2]. Furthermore, some studies substantiated the claim that GBs positively impact students' physical and mental health and ability and better off with learning and solving problems [10]. ...
Full-text available
Since individuals spend the majority of their time indoors, this immediately affects their productivity and health. An essential factor in occupational health and public health is the influence of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in buildings on occupant welfare and productivity. Since then, empirical data have been equivocal, indicating either that the studies are inaccurate or that the research has just scratched the surface of green buildings in offices, accommodation, and hospital settings and not taken the aforementioned holistically. This study compared three green-certified buildings-a residential green building, a green hospital, and a green school-with conventional structures in Tehran, Iran by means of a questionnaire spread among those utilizing these buildings, and assessing their productivity and health rate as opposed to the time they resided, worked in conventional buildings. The results demonstrated higher scores pertaining to productivity, physical and mental wellness as a consequence of better indoor environmental quality (IEQ), natural lighting, design, and sustainability of these building against non-green buildings. In addition, ancillary matters-environmental, financial, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual dimensions of participants-were indirectly evaluated, and the same results are produced.
... Some researchers have found that certain GBFIs do enhance individual productivity (Harter et al., 2003;Schwede et al., 2008;Vischer, 2008;Singh et al., 2010;Fisk et al., 2011;Wiik, 2011;Gou et al., 2012a;Gou et al., 2012b;Alker et al., 2014). Other researchers have found mixed results (Thatcher and Milner, 2012;Feige et al., 2013;Byrd and Rasheed, 2016;Bortoluzzi et al., 2018). Furthermore, Haynes (2008) states that the nature of human interaction (or distraction) in an office environment has the greatest direct impact on productivity. ...
... Elements of ambient conditions that are commonly found in the literature tend to focus on IEQ and/or sick building syndrome (SBS) in terms of perceptions of office building occupants. This was typically conducted using a building user survey (BUS) (Thatcher and Milner, 2012;Gou et al., , 2014Milner, 2014, 2016), which lacks in-depth data in the form of thick descriptions. All the respondents across the two case studies had some form of awareness of the GBFIs that contributed to their indoor environment, as they were all aware that their respective company was located in a green certified building. ...
Purpose This paper aims to investigate green buildings and individual productivity, specifically within the context of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) within green certified office buildings. The purpose of the research was to determine how self-assessed productivity levels were influenced by the indoor environment of the office building. Design/methodology/approach Qualitative data analysis was conducted via semi-structured interviews in two financial services companies (FSCs), both based in green certified office buildings in South Africa. Thematic analysis was conducted to extract common themes from the data. Furthermore, the data were compared to previous research to identify new potential pathways or provide support for existing pathways. Findings The main findings were that physical components, such as temperature, lighting, ventilation and noise, contribute depending on the respondent to individual productivity, engagement, organisational commitment and psychological wellbeing. Safety, underpinned by location and amenities, was a new component not previously considered that subtly contributed to individual productivity. Originality/value The research provides valuable insight into the contributing factors that impact individual productivity within a green certified office building, as previous researchers have yet to reach a consensus on the relationship between individual productivity and IEQ in green certified office buildings.
... According to Burton et al. (2005), unhealthy occupants are 12.2% less productive than their counterparts. Various other researchers also investigate that an occupant's psychological and physiological health affects productivity (Amerio et al., 2020;Pieper et al., 2019;Monzani et al., 2018;Thatcher and Milner, 2012;Street and Lacey, 2019;Grawitch et al., 2017;Yang et al., 2008;Kirkcaldy and Siefen, 2002;Lu et al., 1999). Additionally, Dewa and Lin (2000) argue that occupants suffering from psychological and physiological problems are less likely to show up for work and require more effort to function while at work, relative to those occupants who are psychologically and physiologically fit (Pieper et al., 2019;Hemp, 2004;Kessler et al., 2003). ...
... This study gives the basis for future research on the health-related aspects of the hotel and also fills a gap in past research by introducing occupants' psychological and physiological health as an imperative intervening construct between IEQ and occupants' productivity. The number of studies support the IEQ and satisfaction integration (Yang et al., 2010;Thatcher & Milner, 2012;Newsham et al., 2013;Altomonte & Sachiavon, 2013;Menadue et al., 2013;Schiavon and Altomonte, 2014;Bangwal, 2017b). ...
Full-text available
Over the past century, because of increased global travel, there high growth in the travel and tourism sector. But the outbreak of an ongoing pandemic has changed this scenario, which has put tremendous focus on the Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) embedded with the application of technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI). This study aims to investigate the effect of AI-technology-based IEQ in the hospitality industry on occupants’ productivity through their psychological and physiological health. Drawing from Job demand - resource theory and Nudging philosophy, we formulated the hypothesis and conceptual model, which was empirically tested by structural equation modeling (SEM). The results show that AI-technology-based IEQ is statistically significant in people’s behavioral change, which reflects on occupants’ health and productivity. Notably, AI-technology-based IEQ of the hospitality industry had a greater influence on occupants’ productivity, followed by their psychological and physiological health.
... From occupants' perspective, Thatcher and Milner (2012) found no significant differences in physical and psychological well-being as well as productivity between occupants of green and conventional buildings. In a longitudinal study, Thatcher and Milner (2016) subsequently evaluated employees who moved to three green buildings using a pretest, posttest design, repeated-measures design with a contrast group for two of the buildings that remained in conventional buildings. ...
This study investigates the economic characteristics of green and conventional office buildings in selected nodes in Gauteng Province in South Africa. We estimated the gross rent, net rent and operating cost per square meter elasticities using hedonic regression models. Contrary to international research, which points to tenants willing to pay rent premiums and enjoy cost savings for green, compared to conventional buildings, our results show that in some nodes, green and conventional buildings of similar quality were not differentiable based on rents and operating costs. In one node, 3-star rated green buildings rented at a premium and their operating costs were higher, compared to conventional buildings of similar quality. Only in one node were 4-star rated green buildings characterized by rent premium and lower operating cost advantages for tenants. Differences in the attractiveness of nodes imply that tenants may forgo the expected cost savings from renting green offices in addition to paying a rent premium if the location is right. Since the dataset is archival, findings may not reflect market conditions caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. In addition, the relatively limited size of the dataset may inhibit applicability of the insights across the South African office market. ARTICLE HISTORY
... En general, los sistemas apuntan a un balance entre la sustentabilidad ambiental y la sustentabilidad social con el fin de resguardar las necesidades de los ocupantes (20). Si bien los criterios más evidentes se centran en el ahorro de energía y la disminución de gases efecto invernadero, los criterios relacionados con el bienestar de los ocupantes ocupan un lugar importante, generalmente focalizados en la dimensión de "Calidad del Ambiente Interior" (CAI), con indicadores de confort térmico, visual, acústico y calidad del aire (21)(22)(23). En un estudio comparativo entre los 11 principales sistemas existentes a la fecha (4) se identificó a la CAI como la dimensión que ocupa el tercer lugar entre las analizadas, por debajo de "Energía" y "Sitio"; con ponderaciones similares entre los diferentes sistemas de certificación. Sin embargo, un estudio (24) determinó que el sistema de certificación WELL, implementado en 2014 con el fin de promover la salud y el bienestar de los ocupantes, va más allá al incluir otros criterios que impactan a los ocupantes, tales como la alimentación, el agua potable, el estado físico y la mente, motivados por generar una contraparte distinta a las dimensiones energéticas y de impacto ambiental de los edificios. ...
Full-text available
Los sistemas de certificación de sustentabilidad en las edificaciones se centran en la dimensión ambiental através de criterios orientados al ahorro de energía y la disminución de gases efecto invernadero. Sin embargo, en la actualidad existe una preocupación creciente por la sustentabilidad social centrada en el bienestar y salud de los ocupantes, a través de criterios de Calidad del Ambiente Interior (CAI). Este artículo se basa en el análisis comparativo del sistema de certificación chileno CES y el internacional LEED, evaluando el impacto de los criterios de CAI tanto en el diseño de los sistemas, como en una muestra de edificios de oficinas certificados en Chile. Los resultados indican que CES otorga mayor relevancia a la dimensión CAI que LEED. Dentro de las subcategorías, ambos sistemas priorizan los criterios de calidad del aire por sobre confort térmico y visual. La base de datos de edificios certificados en Chile indica que los criterios más utilizados por LEED se centran en la calidad del aire a través de estrategias de materiales de bajas emisiones y gestión de la construcción, mientras que los edificios certificados CES priorizan estrategias de diseño que abordan aspectos térmicos, lumínicos, acústicos y de calidad del aire.
This chapter offers a reflection on how comfort is perceived in the Global South, specifically in tropical countries, considering economic and technological constraints. International standards do not fit well within the climatic diversity of the places located in the equatorial zone, such as Colombia. This raises the question of whether tropical climates do not allow comfort, or simply do not provide what others want. The bioclimatic architecture paradigm of the last century assigned comfort the status of goal, but in this climatic and socio-cultural context, an attempt has been made to use it as a work tool. The calculation of the environmental performance of spaces, empirically valued as adequate or inadequate for specific conditions, indirectly provides knowledge about the typical tolerance thresholds of a place.KeywordsEnvironmental comfortBioclimatic architectureTropics
Contemporary office buildings have primarily adopted environmental sustainability criteria through the guidelines and requirements of domestic or international green building rating systems. These systems incorporate criteria aimed at reducing resource consumption and the building’s impact on the environment into their design, as well as criteria to improve indoor environmental quality (IEQ). However, doubts remain about the ability of green rating systems to guarantee occupant satisfaction with the building and its indoor environment in contrast with their counterparts. This research is based on a field study comparing occupant satisfaction in certified green office buildings with conventional buildings in Chile, from a sample of 176 occupants of green buildings and 175 occupants of buildings (N \(=\) 351). The study included a survey of occupants and the monitoring of thermal conditions in workspaces. The results showed that there are no significant differences in satisfaction and comfort between green buildings and their conventional counterparts. The occupants of conventional buildings showed trends of higher overall satisfaction for the winter and summer months, as well as for winter and summer temperatures. The other criteria, such as air in winter and summer, showed fairly similar results in both building types.KeywordsGreen buildingsOccupant satisfactionGreen rating systemsIndoor environmental qualityOffice buildings
This book describes how comfort, energy and climate change in developing countries and vulnerable sectors of the population relate to buildings. The building sector is currently facing significant challenges connected to energy consumption, energy poverty and climate change effects. When studied in developing countries and vulnerable sectors of the population, these factors, which are commonplace in the tropics and the southern hemisphere, are interlinked and share a critical component: environmental comfort. Although progress has been made in environmental comfort through research and the development of standards and policies at the international level, in the Global South, where the countries with the highest levels of income inequality are concentrated, environmental comfort has its own characteristics and challenges that prevent a clear understanding from the established vision of the Global North. This book presents research, theories and techniques related to Thermal comfort, Indoor air quality, Visual comfort, and Acoustic comfort and its relationship with energy use and energy efficiency, seeking to address different barriers to environmental comfort. It shows how to improve the way buildings are designed and operated to promote healthier environmental conditions and more sustainable construction, by presenting studies and reflections carried out in the target geographical area: the Global South. In this way, this book contributes to developing the concept of environmental comfort, visualising how progress has been made in understanding it from a tropical and southern perspective, and posing common challenges. The book is intended for engineers, architects, and researchers of the built environment who are interested in environmental comfort and its influence on energy consumption, energy poverty, and other related factors in the Global South context. It is also a useful resource for decision-makers and public policy developers concerned with the indoor comfort of buildings. Moreover, the book aims to provide guidance for those in developing countries by gathering existing knowledge in the field for the tropics and southern hemisphere climatic and sociocultural contexts, allowing us to move forward in this subject with actions and proposed solutions that fit our particular needs.
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Many studies have shown that an unfavourable psychosocial environment increases the risk of mental and physical illness, as well as absenteeism, or sickness absence. However, more costly than absenteeism is presenteeism, where a person is present at work even though disabled by a mental or physical illness. We sought to identify factors explaining why workers would come to work even when their health is impaired. In a cross-sectional design data were collected from 3825 employees of a Canadian organisation. The results show a high occurrence of presenteeism: workers went to work in spite of illness 50% of the time. Presenteeism propensity (the percentage of days worked while ill over total number of sick days) was higher for workers who were ill more often. Heavier workloads, higher skill discretion, harmonious relationships with colleagues, role conflict and precarious job status increased presenteeism, but decision authority did not. Workers reporting high psychological distress and more severe psychosomatic complaints were also more likely to report higher rates of presenteeism. These results suggest that stress research should not only include absenteeism as an outcome indicator, but also consider presenteeism.
A meta-analysis of single-item measures of overall job satisfaction (28 correlations from 17 studies with 7,682 people) found an average uncorrected correlation of .63 (SD = .09) with scale measures of overall job satisfaction. The overall mean correlation (corrected only for reliability) is .67 (SD = .08), and it is moderated by the type of measurement scale used. The mean corrected correlation for the best group of scale measures (8 correlations, 1,735 people) is .72 (SD = .05). The correction for attenuation formula was used to estimate the minimum level of reliability for a single-item measure. These estimates range from .45 to .69, depending on the assumptions made.
A meta-analysis of single-item measures of overall job satisfaction (28 correlations from 17 studies with 7,682 people) found an average uncorrected correlation of .63 (SD = .09) with scale measures of overall job satisfaction. The overall mean correlation (corrected only for reliability) is .67 (SD = .08), and it is moderated by the type of measurement scale used. The mean corrected correlation for the best group of scale measures (8 correlations, 1,735 people) is .72 (SD = .05). The correction for attenuation formula was used to estimate the minimum level of reliability for a single-item measure. These estimates range from .45 to .69, depending on the assumptions made.
Organizational change and restructuring is often perceived as leading to increased occupational stress, impacting negatively on the psychological well-being of employees. This pragmatic study investigates the role of social support and dispositional affect as moderators of role stress post-restructuring for employees in a public utility company. A total of 176 employees, including 37 managers, 60 graded staff and 78 industrial staff completed a self-report questionnaire, approximately 1 year postrestructuring, retrospectively assessing role conflict, ambiguity, overload and positive and negative feedback pre- and post-restructuring. Results suggested that overall role stress increased for managers/ senior officers and graded staff, but not for industrial staff. Social support was linked with lower role stress, more positive feedback and less negative feedback at post-restructuring. For certain role stressors this impact was moderated by dispositional affect, but the effect was not consistent across occupational groups. Positive affect enhanced the effect of manager support in reducing role conflict for graded staff, and the effect of co-worker support in increasing positive feedback and reducing negative feedback for industrial staff. Findings suggest that managers should pay particular attention to support and feedback for employees during periods of chronic occupational stress following organizational restructuring.
2nd report on the performance of GSA's sustainably designed buildings. The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of measured whole building performance as it compares to GSA and industry baselines. The PNNL research team found the data analysis illuminated strengths and weaknesses of individual buildings as well as the portfolio of buildings. This section includes summary data, observations that cross multiple performance metrics, discussion of lessons learned from this research, and opportunities for future research. The summary of annual data for each of the performance metrics is provided in Table 25. The data represent 1 year of measurements and are not associated with any specific design features or strategies. Where available, multiple years of data were examined and there were minimal significant differences between the years. Individually focused post occupancy evaluation (POEs) would allow for more detailed analysis of the buildings. Examining building performance over multiple years could potentially offer a useful diagnostic tool for identifying building operations that are in need of operational changes. Investigating what the connection is between the building performance and the design intent would offer potential design guidance and possible insight into building operation strategies. The 'aggregate operating cost' metric used in this study represents the costs that were available for developing a comparative industry baseline for office buildings. The costs include water utilities, energy utilities, general maintenance, grounds maintenance, waste and recycling, and janitorial costs. Three of the buildings that cost more than the baseline in Figure 45 have higher maintenance costs than the baseline, and one has higher energy costs. Given the volume of data collected and analyzed for this study, the inevitable request is for a simple answer with respect to sustainably designed building performance. As previously stated, compiling the individual building values into single metrics is not statistically valid given the small number of buildings, but it has been done to provide a cursory view of this portfolio of sustainably designed buildings. For all metrics except recycling cost per rentable square foot and CBE survey response rate, the averaged building performance was better than the baseline for the GSA buildings in this study.
Can ‘green’ buildings positively contribute to business performance and organizational effectiveness? Can ‘green’ buildings affect high-level organizational outcomes, such as profitability, customer satisfaction and innovation? How do the physical attributes of green buildings affect the physiological, psychological, cognitive and social functioning of building occupants at the individual level? This paper explores the wider context of sustainable design, integrating work form organizational effectiveness and human factors to suggest that ‘green’ buildings provide economic and organizational benefits for business. Les bâtiments écologiques peuvent-ils positivement contribuer à accroître les performances des entreprises et l'efficacité organisationnelle? Peuvent-ils affecter les résultats organisationnels à un très haut niveau, tels que la rentabilité, la satisfaction du client et l'innovation? Comment les attributs physiques des constructions écologiques affectent-ils le fonctionnement physiologique, psychologique, cognitif et social des occupants au niveau individuel? Le présent document analyse, dans un contexte élargi, la notion de conception durable, y compris l'efficacitéde l'organisation et les facteurs humains, afin de montrer que les constructions écologiques présentent des avantages économiques et organisationnels pour les entreprises.