Here’s a sad statistic: a recent study found that despite 95% of Canadians surveyed saying they feel being outdoors reduced stress levels, nearly two-thirds of Canadians spend less than two hours per week outdoors. Over 80% of Canadians say they’d like to spend more time outdoors, but nearly half say their work schedules don’t permit it.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the idea of biophilic design has become increasingly popular in workplaces in recent years. Nature is known to help keep employees calm, creative, happy and healthy. But it also benefits businesses on a number of facets, making it growingly enticing for business owners.
As 2018 gets underway, this trend will likely grow beyond outdoor gardens, a water feature or bamboo wall dividers and begin evolving from touches of nature to integrated green offices spaces, greener building initiatives and greener operating processes that will benefit businesses in a plethora of ways.
Here are 5 reasons why green office design is a good idea – and how it can be done.
Increased Efficiency and Productivity
It’s well-documented that psychological and emotional wellbeing are paramount in maintaining employee morale and output.
Humans are naturally drawn to connect with nature and living organisms – natural light, ventilation, fresh air, vegetation, outdoor views. A lack of these can stifle creativity and kill productivity. But introducing biophilic design into your workspace can leverage that natural instinct to improve psychological and emotional, in turn, keep employees happy and productive.
Plants can also enhance focus by eliminating noise pollution in the office. Strategically placed greenery will change the acoustics in a room by reducing reverberation time and will effectively absorb distracting noise.
Businesses can also boost employee morale by helping them connect with nature on their way to the office by offering bike or electric car rental benefits for employees who commute to work.
Increased Health and Wellbeing
In its most basic form, the fundamentals of life are fresh air, clear water, natural light and healthy food. These personal benefits can be derived from a green working environment and encourage increased health and wellbeing of employees.
Consider for a moment the fundamental functions of plants. Beyond providing us with food, fiber, shelter, medicine, and fuel, they also perform a function that is vital to humans – the production of oxygen.
Office environments frequently suffer from poor air quality. Their confined nature can mean contaminants – from upholstery, carpeting, adhesives, copy machines, manufactured wood products, pesticides and cleaning agents – all remain trapped inside.
Adding plants or installing “green walls” in an office environment essentially acts as an in-house air purifier, stimulating airflow and increasing oxygen levels, in turn helping employees stay healthier – and saving employers money on sick day payouts.
Lower Overhead Costs
The concept of green office design can be bigger than simply adding plants and vegetation. It can also be applied to functional aspects of an office as well – in turn offering huge cost savings to businesses.
Large windows that allow natural light mean less need for overhead lights which equates to less power used and lower energy bills. If larger windows aren’t an option, businesses can install energy-efficient rated fixtures with LED light bulbs which use less energy, provided a purer source of light and last substantially longer than standard light bulbs – up to 20 years!
When available as an option, features like green roofs and better building materials can also lower heating and cooling bills. Green technologies often prolong the life of the buildings in which they are installed. Even features like greywater systems can cut back on hydro costs and save businesses money.
Company Image and Business Growth
Going green incorporates sustainable practices that decrease environmental impact. And while the idea of a green office can be built on a noble and altruistic foundation, it can also provided businesses with a boost in corporate image, stimulating business growth through brand marketing in return.
For example, switching to green web hosting providers won’t cost a business a ton of extra money, but can publicly show its commitment to sustainable energy initiatives. Even the decision to offer locally sourced food and beverages in cafeterias and lounges shows a business’ commitment to the community in which it operates.
Actions taken for a good cause generate great PR. In the case of going green, it shows that a company is an active global citizen that is dedicated making a difference.
This PR can serve as a powerful marketing tool that drives quantifiable business growth through customer loyalty, differentiation from competitors and stronger brand awareness.
Tax Credits and Government Incentives
Going green has been proven to offset costs in the long run, but it isn’t always a cheap endeavor to implement.
That’s why Canadian governments, both at a federal level and a provincial level, have a long-standing policy of actively promoting the development of green energy sources with fiscal and tax incentives – from write-offs for the cost of green equipment and deductions of development related expenses at the federal level to investment tax credits related to the cost of generation and related equipment at the provincial level.
Others offer various forms of relief related to payroll taxes, property taxes, and other local costs.
Green offices and biophilic design offer benefits to businesses of all sizes, ranging from employee wellbeing to cost savings to company image, business growth and tax and government incentives. And while green office design can be as large as an environmental branding overhaul, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Often times simple, inexpensive design solutions have the power to transform your office environment significantly.