Environmentally friendly offices used to be outliers. Strictly for companies coasting on an eco reputation or those trying to be at the forefront of modern design. That’s no longer the case. Green offices are becoming increasingly common and taking over commercial spaces.
Just look at the stats. In the US alone, the green building market is worth a hefty $81 billion, with a huge chunk of that representing commercial construction. In 2006, the United States had 296 LEED-certified projects (i.e. projects that have a ‘green’ rubber stamp). The average the last few years? Over 70,000. Major corporations like Bloomberg are investing in green offices, while initiatives like Containerville in London house 110 eco-friendly small businesses.
Why is this shift happening? Yes, it’s ultimately down to the environment and sustainability. But the explanatory factors are a little more complex than that.
Going Green Boosts Company Reputation
Turning your office eco friendly is a surefire way to boost your business reputation. It not only leads to positive publicity (and it’s mostly free!), but consumers actively seek companies that have a strong focus on being green. Having a green office therefore has a direct effect on sales and conversions.
According to research conducted by Nielsen, 85% of millennials care about whether companies implement eco-friendly policies. Gen X sits at 79%, while Baby Boomers care at a rate of 72%. No matter how you slice it, these are significant numbers.
It’s the Cost-Effective Option
Going green used to be a moral choice that came at a price. And while investing in green initiatives requires an up-front cost, the fact is that for most companies it will result in savings over time:
- Government incentives. Policy is wanting to push companies towards greener options by way of financial incentives. For example, many countries offer tax breaks and grants.
- Alternative energy is cheaper. Reports show that alternative energy is more cost-effective over time. Considering energy is one of the highest office costs, companies are taking notice.
- Employee retention and productivity. We’ll go over this in more detail in the next point, but green offices reduce employee churn and increase net productivity.
Greener Offices = Happy and More Productive Staff
Greener offices also have a positive effect on the individual. This is because, generally speaking, what’s good for the environment is also good for the employee. Things like improving air quality, the availability of natural light, and an abundance of green spaces, all lead to happier and more productive employees.
And this isn’t just down to anecdotal evidence. Because green initiatives can cost a large up-front investment, extensive studies have been done to see how they can affect the bottom line. The results are exceedingly positive:
- Saint-Gobain’s North American HQ doubled productivity after a move to a greener office.
- Skanska saw a 66% reduction in sick leave as a result of improved layout, noise control, air quality, and lighting.
- Heerema Marine Contractors is projected to save $47 million over 20 years after a move to a greener office in Amsterdam.
Employees Are Demanding Green Offices
Compared to just a few years ago, the average person is far more aware of environmental concerns. Issues such as employee wellbeing have also reached the forefront of discussion. In short: employees are demanding that their bosses invest in sustainable eco-friendly office environments.
This is primarily for two reasons. First, individuals want to work for companies that make a positive influence on the planet. Research shows that employees are willing to take a pay cut to move to a company that invests in green initiatives. Second, employees want an office that promotes health and wellbeing. Improved ventilation, better lighting, eco-friendly materials, and access to nature tick all of these boxes.
The Environment Needs It
Earth is suffering. Since the early 2000s, over 300 peer-reviewed scientific studies all point to an increase in extreme weather events. The majority of these events show that it’s down to us, to human-led climate change. And the message has started to sink in. We’re acting because we have to. Because going green isn’t something that will affect the long-term, but the current generation.
Our final point to explain the growth of green offices is that there’s simply no other alternative if we want to save our environment. While there’s still time. Climate change is real and scientists agree: human activity is responsible for it. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Offices around the world have started to do their part, governments are changing their policies, and individuals are altering day-to-day behaviour to limit negative environmental effects.