Sustainability, Productivity and Profits

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Posted by:
Peter Belislie
Energy and Sustainability Services, CEO

Employee health and safety is often framed as a regulatory compliance issue, but over time companies have increasingly recognized that environmental health factors also affect employee “wellbeing,” a term that encompasses job satisfaction as well as a sense of health and safety in the workplace). A happier, healthier employee is a more productive employee. Even a small increase in productivity can make a big difference to the corporate bottom line.

So companies are more than willing to invest in sustainability initiatives that promote wellbeing and have a measurable impact on productivity. The operative word here, however, is “measurable”. There is no definitive way to measure productivity among office workers, let alone measuring the change in productivity that results from a specific action. Corporate leaders may believe that enhancing indoor air quality or providing more natural light in offices will improve wellbeing and productivity, but many are reluctant to spend money on sustainability programs without data to prove their value.

Not that measurement hasn’t been tried. Over the years there have been several good studies of the relationship of green buildings and occupant productivity. If no single study provides indisputable evidence of a connection, the consistent findings of study after study confirm that there is a connection, and the productivity benefit to the bottom line is certainly greater than the cost of implementing programs.

That’s why our latest edition of Global Sustainability Perspective includes a meta-study of the best research done along these lines over the past two decades. It’s an interesting read and accessible to readers who may not be experts on sustainability. You might want the members of your C-suite to read it—if they care about making money, that is.

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