Latest green building trend: focus on effects on people

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Different stakeholders from Asia’s green building industry convened last week in Singapore during the International Green Building Conference 2015. Light has been shed on some new trends in the market, including green building’s focus which now has been extended towards its effects on people.

The global green house gas emission could double by 2030 from the already concerning current level – if we continue business as usual without any change. Terri Wills, the CEO at World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) stated during her speech that to stay within 2 degrees of global temperature increase, we need two things : net zero buildings and deep retrofits.

Health and wellbeing of green building

Gone are the days where building’s focus is put merely on energy efficiency – although of which value is not diminished.

Now taking health and wellbeing into account, the WorldGBC considers these two factors crucial not only to weigh in inescapable moral duty for the people by providing proper working/living space, but also to validate the business sense of building sustainably/green.

The WorldGBC assesses a number of metrics to measure health and wellbeing of green building such as : revenue, medical complaints, physical complaints, medical costs, staff turnover/retention, and absenteeism.

An ideal condition of which a green building aims to provide would then be translated into increase of revenue, and minimum medical/physical complaints, medical costs, staff turnover, as well as absenteeism.

How can green building/office benefit its tenants?

The WorldGBC’s Terri Wills further explored the actual effects caused by a number of “green” factors in an office building, namely as follows :

  • Lighting :
    Passive design that provides natural lighting (e.g. through windows) proves to have good effect on people. Office workers who are exposed to more windows, sleep for an average 46 minutes more per night, leading to better productivity during the day.
  • Air quality :
    Better air quality can improve employee’s productivity by 8-11%. This can be realized through natural airflow or optimum (indoor) HVAC system. Greenery or garden inside the building or around it can also help to produce more oxygen and provide better air quality.
  • Thermal comfort :
    It is discovered that in general, employees experience 4% reduction in performance at cooler temperatures, and 6% at warmer temperatures (compared to each area’s average condition). In the Asian region, the range of these temperatures may vary but the key here is “comfort” – something that can be optimized through proper façade, HVAC system installation and operationalization, as well as greenery in the vicinity. The more comfort a building provides, the more staying power it offers to the tenants and better productivity it is translating into.
  • Greenery :
    On average, 40 seconds exposure to a nature view such as garden can significantly improve someone’s productivity.

All of the above factors, among some others, once adopted can eventually be quantified to result in actual increase of revenue and retention rate, as well as reduction of medical/physical complaints, medical costs, and absenteeism.

The Asian region is now seeing not only visible growth rate of green building adoption across the countries, but also improvement of how the practice is being valued, and better learning (in terms of perspectives, process, technologies) from its neighboring global regions. (AGB.com – SA)

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