Guest Column

The Business Case for Going Green

October, 2018

Today, millennials who make up the largest generation in the workforce, cite sustainability as one of the key issues they care about. Therefore, more and more businesses are adopting corporate sustainability and environmental programs as they attract talent and create a "great place to work" as they tend to coincide with the company's mission, vision, and values.

But now that the employee demand for green workspaces is there - what is the benefit to the employer? Are green buildings just a surface-level preference? The short answer is no: green buildings create measurably happier employees, leading to a significant bottom-line increase for employers.

Green Buildings impact the Bottom Line

Green buildings, whether built from the ground up or retrofitted, are now significantly less expensive than traditional models, and they bring many added benefits for both owners and occupants.

Misconceptions about cost prevent the adoption of sustainable buildings. A 2007 opinion survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that green buildings were thought to cost 17% more than traditional buildings. But according to the World Green Building Trends 2016 Smart Market Report, green buildings are 14% less costly to operate than traditional buildings – with newer buildings saving significantly more in terms of energy costs. Additionally, on an average, green buildings are worth 7% more than traditional buildings – with market demand for green buildings doubling every three years.

As Georg Kell and Bruno Berthon write in the UN Global Compact- Accenture CEO Study 2010, A New Era of Sustainability – “Good performance on sustainability amounts to good business overall: the imperative to act has shifted from a moral to a business case”.

Second, it's a well-accepted fact that a healthy, happy workforce is a crucial component of a productive, successful business. Studies show aspects such as Indoor Air Quality, Thermal Comfort, lighting, etc. significantly impact employee health, cognitive abilities, problem-solving capabilities, concentration, and ability to innovate.

Traditional buildings often suffer from buildup of CO2 in the air thanks to poor ventilation and thermostats that can't be adjusted. Too much CO2 in the air causes drowsiness - it's the reason you need that mid-afternoon cup of coffee to keep yourself from falling asleep during meetings. It's no surprise that CO2 levels tend to be the highest in office meeting rooms, often reaching thousands of parts per million (as compared to around 350 ppm for fresh, outside air). These buildings also suffer from hotspots and cold spots due to the absence of smart HVAC solutions, such as 75F’s Dynamic Airflow Balancing.

Green buildings with upgraded, smart HVAC solutions can fix this problem. For instance, 75F’s Outside Air Optimization senses optimal times to bring in fresh, outside air thereby maximizing energy savings as well as improving the indoor air quality. 75F's Dynamic Airflow Balancing Solution, is another such system, that uses IoT and smart algorithms in the cloud to not only monitor energy consumption but uses the input from these sensors to proactively adjust HVAC  settings for maximum employee efficiency and increased energy savings. Sensors detect which part of the building gets the most amount of sunlight in real time and directs the HVAC system to improve the cooling in those areas. Similar sensors can tell if a room is filled or if it is unoccupied. Based on these inputs, the system can decide which areas need more or less cooling.

With benefits like fresh air, comfortable temperatures and better lighting, green buildings make employees more comfortable. And for employers, having comfortable employees directly impacts the bottom line. When daylight harvesting is used, for example (a practice which maximizes the use of natural light), one study found that workers were up to 23% more productive. Productivity increased another 11% from better ventilation, and 3% from being provided with individual temperature controls

Smarter, greener buildings benefit everyone.

Smart building infrastructure provides a short ROI and ongoing energy savings. Both owners and tenants can enjoy an improved quality of life thanks to enhanced monitoring, measurement, and control capabilities. Facility managers benefit from building automation thanks to the ability to analyze and improve efficiency, predict failure with pre-emptive monitoring, and maximize the investment of time and money across equipment and staff, freeing up time to focus on higher-value priorities. With the smartest, most comfortable buildings, you shouldn't notice the temperature, air quality or lighting, as it's being optimized in the background for you!

At 75F, we see great potential in reducing energy use with more intelligent building systems, while also improving business processes and efficiency, tenant health and wellness, and overall resource management, for the mutual benefit of the planet, profit and people.

– Gaurav Burman,
VP and Country President, India, 75F