Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Studies: Green offices improve workers' health

USA Today
Sept. 15, 20010

Workers who moved from conventional office buildings to eco-friendly ones report less absenteeism and greater productivity, according to two studies by researchers at Michigan State University.

"These preliminary findings indicate that green buildings may positively affect public health," the researchers write in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The studies looked at the impact of office buildings in the Lansing area that were certified by the private U.S. Green Building Council.

The studies found that absentee hours due to asthma, respiratory allergies and stress averaged 1.12 in the conventional buildings but 0.49 in the green buildings. One study evaluated 56 workers while the other 207, reports the online Green Building Advisor.

The researchers said they would continue to track the workers, partly to determine whether employee responses are due to the fact that their behavior is being studied or that their new offices are actually improving their health.

Other studies have linked green building, which can improve indoor air quality via extra ventilation and less-toxic materials, to a reduction in health problems. A recent study of a Seattle public housing complex found that residents' health, primarily asthma in children, improved after their homes got a green makeover.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation (Livestrong) Headquarters in Austin features green design achieved through recycled and non-toxic building materials. The project received a 2010 TSA Design Award and is featured on page 44 of the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of Texas Architect.

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