Sustainable buildings: A strategy for employee recruitment & retention

Sustainable buildings: A strategy for employee recruitment & retention

The buildings where we live, work, and play account for one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of global energy consumption. Managing these buildings sustainability isn’t only good for our planet but can house hidden benefits to help businesses attract, engage, and retain top talent. 


Employees want environmental alignment  

In a world where “climate quitting” and “conscious quitting” have become global movements, employers are having to up their environmental efforts to attract and retain talent. In fact, a company’s sustainability practices have become so important that, according to a recent KPMG survey, one-third of Gen Zers say they'd rejected a job offer because they didn't like a company's green credentials. Another study found that students entering the workforce would be willing to accept lower salaries to work for environmentally responsible companies.

That being said, employees aren’t interested in empty gestures. Businesses are having to make tangible, verifiable emissions reductions – and one major litmus test being used to prove a company is ‘walking the walk’ concerning its corporate values is the sustainability of its building(s).  


Green buildings have healthier, happier, and more loyal employees  

This isn’t surprising. Given that buildings account for almost 40% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, a sustainable workspace is easily one of the most sure-fire symbols of an organization's dedication to reducing its carbon footprint.  

Through this kind of alignment with potential employees’ values, companies aren’t just doing their part for the planet while attracting talent, they’re also increasing their existing employees’ job satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, a recent survey by the U.S. Green Buildings Council found that a whopping 93% of employees in LEED-certified buildings reported being satisfied in their jobs. 

Yet the modern workforce is seeking even more than job satisfaction and ethical alignment. According to the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report, people also want to work in office spaces that support their health and well-being. And why not? Given that Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors and a third of their lives at work, having an office building that positively impacts an employee’s health and well-being is no longer just a bonus: it’s essential.


Tip: Companies can prioritize employee health and well-being by creating healthier indoor environments, focusing on improving the efficiency of their buildings’ heating and ventilation systems and ensuring there’s ample natural light – aspects that have been proven to enhance cognitive function, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. 


What’s good for employees is good for business 

It’s no secret that genuine concern for employees’ welfare fosters a positive work culture, which in turn results in happier, more loyal employees. But happy, loyal employees aren’t just nice to work with: they’re also 12% more productive 

So clearly sustainable office spaces aren’t just an ethical choice for businesses – they’re a strategic move that can give companies a competitive leg up. So, what’s stopping most businesses from making their workplace environments more sustainable? Well, for many it’s the perceived cost and effort associated with greening their building– a line of logic that just doesn’t hold up when considering that sustainability efforts such as switching to LED lights, investing in ENERGY STAR®-certified appliances, and installing energy-optimizing technology can end up saving businesses money in the long run.  

What’s more, the financial benefits of effective recruitment, retention, reduced sick time, and greater productivity, combined with the fact that tenants are willing to pay more for sustainable buildings, vastly outweigh the reduced productivity, higher turnover, lower rent, and higher energy costs associated with carbon-intensive buildings.  

Moreover, sustainable buildings can significantly increase the value of a brand’s image. One study by Cone Communications reveals that 89% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that advocates for social and environmental issues. This sentiment extends to potential employees, around 70% of whom are more willing to apply for and accept a position at a company that’s known to be environmentally sustainable.


Fact: Those working in green-certified office buildings have reported a 26% improvement in cognition and 30% fewer sick days. 


Not convinced? Here are a few companies that have made their buildings more sustainable for the benefit of their employees, their business, and their planet: 

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Method Products

This eco-friendly cleaning product company has the first-ever LEED Platinum Certified manufacturing plant in its industry. The Chicago-based plant, known as the "South Side Soapbox," is a bright, open, and airy building with loads of natural sunlight designed to reflect the company’s commitment to sustainability and employee well-being. The building features a 1,500 square foot indoor green canopy to improve air quality and productivity in addition to a 75,000 square foot greenhouse on its roof. 


Credit: Etsy


Etsy, has a zero energy-certified office space in Brooklyn, New York. The office building, known as the "Etsy Headquarters," was designed with sustainability in mind, incorporating features like green roofs, rainwater harvesting, and energy-efficient systems. The open layout and green communal spaces encourage collaboration among employees, fostering a culture of innovation.  


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New Belgium Brewing

This certified zero-waste craft brewery based in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Asheville, N.C., has a sustainable LEED-certified tasting room (Platinum), brewery (Gold), and distribution center (Silver) that use LED lighting, repurposed materials, high-efficiency cooling and distributed heating and cooling, solar hot water, natural ventilation, and stormwater. Designed to be a vibrant workplace that encourages collaboration, New Belgium Brewing utilizes natural daylight, open floor plans, and picturesque views to its advantage. Its Fort Collins location also boasts an onsite medical clinic, providing its employees with high-quality, low-cost healthcare services. 


Supporting the creation of environmental, social, and financial value

While entertaining a medical facility onsite might be extra, there’s no doubt that companies have a financial incentive to prioritize the health and well-being of their workforce. They also have a responsibility to reduce emissions and a great need to attract and retain talented employees.  

That’s why sustainable buildings are such a neat solution for forward-thinking companies. Green office spaces not only help reduce a company’s environmental footprint and energy costs, but they also provide a healthy, comfortable, collaborative workplace in which employees are happier and more productive - leading to lower turnover rates and reduced recruitment costs. In this way, it can be said sustainable building strategies are good business strategies, which is why companies need to step up and support their thriving ecosystems - both within and outside their walls. 

Find out how you can make your building more sustainable and employee-friendly with BrainBox AI. 

Are you interested in implementing our solution into your building?

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