Researchers from Michigan State University have discovered an interesting side benefit from building greener buildings: Workers who occupy them not only report feeling more productive, but they also are less likely to suffer from depression, stress, or be absent from work.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, surveyed employees in the same area of East Lansing, Michigan--one group occupying conventional office buildings and the other in LEED-certified buildings (one was LEED platinum rated and the other silver rated).

In terms of perceived productivity, the researchers found that in the LEED-certified buildings productivity increase 2.18%. That translates into an additional 39 hours a year, something which was chalked up to improvements in light and ventilation.

What's more, absenteeism dropped. Here's Smart Planet's breakdown of the benefits in the green buildings:

Average time workers suffered from stress and depression: 14.06 hours a month, versus 20.21 in conventional buildings.

Hours per month which asthma and respiratory ailments affected workers: 6.32 hours, down markedly from 16.28 hours in conventional buildings.

Here's the original study: Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity [PDF]

An interesting counterpoint to all this comes from a new post in Yale e360, which discusses how LEED certification places too little emphasis on human health and chemical exposure in the certification process.

Author John Wargo writes,

LEED -- sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, an industry group -- has a glaring and little-known drawback: It places scant emphasis on factors relating to human health, even as the largely unregulated use of potentially toxic building materials continues to expand. One of LEED

The whole discussion about whether or not LEED adequately addresses indoor air quality as a specific sustainability criteria, and whether or not it adequately decreases exposure to toxic chemicals is a large one

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