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Sustainability means wellness

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Written by: Alberto Brioso

Building owners, managers, and tenants hear a lot about the savings and energy efficiency that results from sustainability. They may know that the U.S. Green Building Council has reported that substantially lower maintenance costs are associated with LEED-certified buildings, as compared to typical commercial buildings. Retrofit projects for green building typically trim first-year operating costs by about 10 percent.

Those are great facts to know, but green buildings are good for people as well as for budgets.  Sustainability benefits the health and well-being of workers and customers in green buildings. Sustainability means wellness.

Removing workplace carcinogens

Many chemicals common to workplaces are carcinogens, leading to sickness short-term and long-term to cancer.  Property Managers, building owners, and team leaders all can help limit employee exposure to carcinogens. This begins with purchase decisions but continues with smart choices in storage locations, proper use, and thoughtful disposal procedures.

Wellness benefits of smoking bans

The best-known cancer-causing agent, tobacco smoke, has already been banned from many workplaces. This began over 20 years ago, when the State of California banned smoking in all enclosed workplaces. Since then, jurisdictions nationwide have implemented similar bans. Florida statues in 2008 specified that other than specified exempted locations, with a few exceptions, “a person may not smoke in an enclosed indoor workplace.”

Green building benefits

The benefits of abundant natural light, efficiently-regulated temperatures, and carcinogen-free cleaning agents are shared by workplace occupants as well as building owners. A recent article in the Commercial Property Executive associates those intrinsic benefits with reduced absenteeism and enhanced job satisfaction. As a result, higher productivity is seen.

Building owners and asset managers can market tenant wellness as a substantive benefit of their properties. Workers prefer healthy workplaces. The owners and managers of LEED certified buildings have current and future value in human and fiscal wellness.

Alexa Stone can be reached via ecoPreserve email,