Design and Construction, Emergency Preparedness, Energy Management and Lighting, Green Building, Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations, Sustainability/Business Continuity

Why Are Healthy Buildings Important?

During the opening keynote session of Facilities Management Advisor’s FM Now: Healthy Buildings virtual summit, “Connecting the Dots: Moving Toward an Integrated Approach to Healthy and Sustainable Reporting for Buildings,” the topic of healthy buildings was discussed, including the financial and employee benefits of healthy facilities, how healthy buildings can combat climate change, ways healthy buildings can encourage a return to the office (RTO), and specifics on healthy building reporting.

The guest speaker for the session was Dr. Angela Loder, President of Greening the City, a research, consulting, and strategic planning firm focusing on human health and sustainability.

Financial and Employee Benefits of Healthy Facilities

Healthy facilities help with employee performance and the bottom line.

According to Loder’s presentation, 45 companies that received high scores in a health and wellness self-assessment appreciated by 235% compared with companies in the S&P 500.

“Building managers are being held accountable for the impacts of their buildings on health and well-being,” she said, adding that “this is particularly relevant after COVID, but it still holds true today.”

Loder also explained the large impact health-focused interventions have on building and employee performance. A healthy building has a 73% positive impact on the building lease rate, a 62% positive impact on building value, and a 79% positive impact on occupant satisfaction.

How Healthy Buildings Combat Climate Change

Buildings can have a significant impact on climate change. According to the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, buildings account for 21% of greenhouse gases and 34% of global energy demand, Loder noted.

Climate change can be measured using the following data:

  • Emissions data
  • Energy, water, and use data
  • Social impact data
  • Financial data
  • Climate-related financial risk data
  • Supply chain data
  • Environmental impact data
  • Climate scenario analysis

A Healthy RTO Strategy

How can employers convince employees to RTO?

According to Loder, “Even if COVID isn’t looming high in most people’s minds if you are managing a building, a Class C building, really poor ventilation, almost no natural light, very poor fenestration, not great amenities, it is going to be much harder, and the evidence supports this, to get people back to the office.”

She explained that this is especially true for workers with a great home office.

According to a 2019 “Future Workplace and View Future Workplace Wellness Study,” workplace wellness perks that matter most to employees include air quality (58%), comfortable light (50%), and air quality (41%).

Importance of Health Reporting

When it comes to risk management, many think of factory workers who perform manual work as being the most affected by acute injuries. But knowledge workers, who account for 60% to 75% of the workforce in industrialized countries, are the most often affected by chronic diseases.

“Health and well-being, we know, are complex and difficult to measure, and as facilities managers, you probably want to stay very far away from it, but the fact is, it’s coming down the pipeline, and we need to have ways to be able to include this in our reporting,” Loder asserted.

In fact, multiple bills are being pushed through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to expand human capital management reporting.

What Needs to Be Measured?

Loder suggests that facilities managers measure the 12 competencies recommended by the International WELL Building Institute, which explore the following:

  1. Health and well-being: Physical and mental health;
  2. Thriving: Work/life balance;
  3. Performing energy and motivation: Work structure and relationships;
  4. Employee effectiveness: Focus, performance, and job satisfaction;
  5. Organizational performance: Financial well-being;
  6. Organizational culture and engagement: Strategy and execution and communication;
  7. Risk management: Emergency preparedness and hazard prevention;
  8. Environment of care and support: Leadership support of well-being;
  9. Ambient environmental quality and design: Performance testing on light and air quality;
  10. Occupant and market perceptions of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and design: Satisfaction of light, air quality, and acoustics;
  11. Community and stakeholder engagement: Collective values and practices; and
  12. Sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting and strategy: Environmental reporting and sustainable finance and accounting.

Learn More

Other topics discussed during the webinar included sustainability reporting drivers, information on the “S” in ESG, challenges and opportunities for reporting, and case studies.

To watch the entire session of “Connecting the Dots: Moving Toward an Integrated Approach to Healthy and Sustainable Reporting for Buildings,” click here.

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