According to a study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University, employees who worked in LEED-certified buildings were more productive and less prone to absenteeism.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. In order for a building to be LEED-certified, it must undergo review by the U.S. Green Building Council, which assigns LEED ratings by measuring the building against several categories, including impact on ecosystems and water resources, water efficiency, sustainable building materials, and indoor environmental quality.
The researchers carried out two case studies among office workers in East Lansing, Michigan. In the first study, 56 workers moved from a conventional office building to a platinum LEED-certified building.
In the second case, 207 workers moved from a standard building to a silver LEED-certified building. Both situations apparently proved rather satisfactorily that, after moving to LEED-certified buildings, workers noted “reductions in perceived absenteeism and work hours affected by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression, and stress and to self-reported improvements in productivity.”
However Planet Green cautions us that this study only focused on the toxic environmental impact of building materials and processes, rather than the effects on the people who live in said environments.
MSU’s researchers feel that though their findings “indicate that green buildings may positively affect public health,” they also acknowledged that the results were based on self-reporting and perception.
In short, it’s possible that green buildings contribute to health because they’re healthier environments, but it’s also possible that workers experienced gains because they expected to feel better in a LEED-certified office.