Construction is a powerful tool for change. Whether it’s infrastructure or the buildings we live and work in, construction always makes a difference. In the last few decades, awareness of the importance of sustainability has swept the industrial world. It’s no longer enough to just build sturdy structures, it’s necessary to look at what kind of impact they’re going to make. But what are the actual benefits of making our buildings “green”? Turns out, there’s more than you might imagine.
This is the most obvious category of benefits, and it’s the one everyone expects. Building green buildings means simply wasting less resources: less energy, less water, less gas. The construction sector is huge an carries with it enormous environmental costs. Just shifting to green construction could produce energy savings of about 50% by the year 2050, according to a UNEP study from 2016. That could make a huge impact on environmental sustainability efforts overall.
Although people generally associate eco-friendly building with high costs, there’s a lot that needs to be said about the economic benefits of going green. It is true that green construction generally needs more upfront planning and includes higher costs for materials and specialised labour, but it’s best to look at the building process more as an investment than a loss of money. Green construction increases a building’s efficiency considerably, which means utility bills are going to be lower than in traditional buildings. Green construction is also a booming and rapidly growing industry that can create a whole host of new jobs for workers, so it’s an investment in the community and the economy at large.
According to some interesting and promising studies there are some very real benefits to giving workers greener environments to work in. Such benefits include increased productivity (especially offices that were well-ventilated and green) and better sleep (especially offices with a lot of windows and thus access to natural light for employees). Employees also tended to score better on cognitive tests when working in greener environments. It’s not really surprising as a result. What’s more rewarding, ultimately? Working in a small, stuffy offices with little natural light or open, green spaces that provide ample breathing room? All employers should make employee satisfaction a top goal, not just out of decency but because it is a great return on investment.