While green construction is often touted for its ability to save companies a great deal of money on energy costs, the health benefits it offers may have a much greater impact on your business. According to Syracuse University’s Center of Excellence in environmental and energy innovation, insufficient indoor environmental quality (IEQ) costs Americans between $40 and $258 billion each year in lost worker productivity. These poor working environments cause health problems in 30 to 70 million Americans each year.
When a building has poor indoor environmental air quality, its inhabitants often suffer from respiratory problems, skin rashes, nausea, headaches, and allergies and other ailments. These health issues are caused by factors such as poor air circulation, bad lighting, mold, tainted carpeting, dangerously high levels of pollutants, extreme temperature discrepancies from one area of the building to another, pesticides, and toxic fumes from paint and adhesives.
Advantages of Green Construction
Environmentally friendly structures offer a much more pleasant and healthier place for their occupants to work. Two of most highly praised benefits of green construction include:
- Improved Indoor Air Quality
Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) is one of the main goals of green construction. When a building doesn’t have proper ventilation, it can’t get rid of fumes and odors. Green buildings are constructed from low-emitting materials, but even low-emitting materials need ventilation. During construction of a green building, 100% outdoor ventilation is used to improve air quality. This helps building occupants to be more comfortable, improves well-being, and results in higher productivity. Improved IAQ can have a great long-term impact for companies, including decreased absenteeism and healthcare costs.
- No Asbestos Risk
Many older buildings were constructed with harmful asbestos insulation, which can cause a type of cancer called mesothelioma. Individuals often aren’t even aware they’ve had contact with asbestos until they’ve been exposed to the deadly material for years, as it often takes a long time for symptoms to become present. When people opt for green construction, they’ll never have to fear exposure to asbestos. An alternative, blown-in cellulose insulation, made from 80% post-consumer recycled newspaper, is commonly used in the construction of green buildings. There are no known negative health consequences associated with this type of insulation, and it’s also treated to resist mold, fire, and insects.
Going Green with Construction
If you’re getting ready to break ground on a new building, consider the many benefits of green construction. The idea may seem overwhelming at first, as there’s a lot to take in, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Look for a green construction company that can help you through the building process, from the first stages of design to completion. Not only will your new green building be environmentally friendly, it will also serve as a much more pleasant place for your employees to spend their days. The resulting higher productivity and lower rates of absenteeism will yield greater profits for your business.
Brandon Hodzic writes for LEED consultant Gaia Development, which assists businesses and home buyers with green construction projects.