By Sacha Ferrandi, Founder and Principal of Source Capital Funding, Inc.
In the past few decades, we’ve learned over and over again that office atmosphere plays directly into employee productivity and wellbeing. The relationship between worker and building is tangible, and improving office design can have major impacts on the output your employees display. Most businesses fail to understand and take advantage of the benefits a redesigned sustainable office can offer. A recent study by JLL found that after adopting best practices to improve flexible workspaces, ergonomics, and acoustics, one company garnered $160,000 in annual productivity gains. As offices play a large part in company performance, ensure you’re doing all you can to craft a productive, calming work space for dedicated employees.
The Power of Green.
The green building market has been expanding exponentially; in 2013, the market reached $260 billion, 20 percent of which was new commercial real estate construction. Business owners have been flocking to LEED certified real estate options, and for good reason.
These buildings offer lower operating costs and higher indoor environmental quality. When polled, 61 percent of corporate leaders believed that sustainability leads to improved financial performance and significant market differentiation. This belief has definitely led to action; construction firms have majorly shifted focus to green commercial projects. In the USA alone, one study found that 46% of participants expected to begin green building projects in the next three years (2016-2019).
It’s not just newly constructed buildings that are capitalizing on green savings. Companies who renovate with a focus on energy efficiency can save thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single year. The most commonly sought updates include energy-efficient heating, air conditions, lighting, plumbing, and ventilation.
The proof comes in the form of tangible savings. Beyond the obvious, like reduced energy bills, green construction can have a positive impact on other company expenses. When it comes to health care, buildings which were renovated to improve the indoor environment saw huge reductions in health care costs. Communicable respiratory diseases were down by 9 to 20 percent, and cases of allergies and asthma decreased in a range of 18 to 25 percent.
The Proper Amenities.
There are varied amenities, both “green” and traditional, to consider when looking at potential office buildings for your business.
Air: Air quality is more important that you might have initially assumed. Improving the quality of the air your employees breathe can improve how they function at work. Offices constructed with building materials that contain carbon dioxide and VOCs can lead to fatigue and hampered brain function. Look for office buildings with solid ventilation systems.
Location: While not necessarily a ‘green’ aspect, location is important to take into consideration when considering office amenities. Will your employees consistently be plagued by rush hour traffic, forced to wait in long lines of cars to take the one exit available to them? If so, you may want to reconsider.
Windows: Access to natural light has massive beneficial impact on both mental and physical health. More exposure to sunlight can increase feelings of happiness and can also lead to higher quality levels of sleep. The better rested your employees are, the more productive they’ll be. Choose an office with expansive windows, avoid heavy window treatments, and keep blinds open during the day to capture as much of the sun’s rays as possible. Also consider office buildings that feature outdoor living spaces, such as patios.
Space: While the jury is still out on the validity of open office concepts, there’s no denying that spatial awareness in a building can lead to higher output. Using open floor plans can reduce a building’s carbon footprint by utilizing less materials. Ensure your office has the appropriate spaces for the type of work being completed; graphic designers may work more collaboratively in an open space to great success, while copywriters generally fare better in private workspaces. Social spaces are important, and can further improve company camaraderie and overall employee satisfaction, leading to increased productivity.
Choosing an Office.
If you’re looking to make a move into a greener office, be aware that the search may be grueling and a more intensive process than initially anticipated. However, the benefits definitely outweigh the large investment of time and money.
Consider Your Timing.
When shopping around, get extensive details on lease terms, especially when it comes to time stipulations. Say you’ve just started your business, and you currently employee 15 individuals. Should you experience exponential growth, you may find yourself saddled with a bevy of new employees and not enough space to house them. It’s important to find a lease that you can work with realistically, and locking yourself into a 5-year lease just because it’s the first green building you’ve found won’t do your business any favors.
Green construction means savings down the road, but it also means a larger initial investment. Lease-up rates for green office buildings can range from average prices to 20 percent above average rates, so be prepared to output more at the start. To determine how much you can realistically afford, calculate not by person, but by overall cost. Also keep in mind the expenses that come beyond the lease, including furniture, technology investments, and other miscellaneous office expenditures.
Finding a green office is no walk in the park, but the inherent benefits of green construction and renovation can mean huge gains for your company as a whole, so consider it a worthy investment.
Sacha Ferrandi is the Founder and Principal at Source Capital Funding Inc. As an expert in commercial and residential real estate with over 12 years of experience in the industry, Sacha works with business properties of all varieties.