Builders' Merchants News

Low carbon buildings benefit business

Published:  02 July, 2009

WATFORD: Research recently conducted by BRE social scientists demonstrates the business benefits experienced by companies and organisations who operate from low carbon buildings.

The project, which was commissioned by the Carbon Trust in Scotland, took a look at three recently completed BREEAM excellent buildings in Scotland and explored the impact of the buildings on occupier experience and on the organisations as a whole. 

The research consisted of a series of interviews with business, building and facilities managers and focus groups with building occupants. Participants were asked whether they perceived that productivity, job satisfaction and well being had increased since moving into their new buildings.

The following eight key business benefits were uncovered:


  1. Reduced operational costs - for example, utility costs, facilities’ staff time, paper and travel.
  2. Expected increase in the low carbon buildings’ asset value over a standard speculative building.
  3. The high levels of daylight, good air quality and natural ventilation in the buildings have had a positive impact on occupant health and well being, compared with occupant’s previous air conditioned premises.
  4. Open plan, transparent offices (related to natural ventilation strategy and increased daylight penetration) encourage communication and break down silos. The research suggests this can have a positive impact on staff – colleagues and managers are more accessible.
  5. Award winning, low carbon buildings provide excellent profile raising and marketing opportunities. Clients and the local community enjoy visiting the building and are encouraged to attend meetings and events.
  6. Raised awareness of sustainability amongst occupants, encourages pro-environmental behaviour at work that spills over into the home environment.
  7. Improved image amongst staff who feel it is important to work in a sustainable building, and enhanced amenities for staff which contribute to making staff feel valued at work.
  8. There is some indication that a sustainable building can have a positive impact on recruitment.


Mindy Hadi, principal occupational psychologist at BRE said: “Although this was a limited study looking at a small sample of low carbon buildings within Scotland, the results are very encouraging – not only did the occupying organisations report financial benefits from reductions in running costs, they also reported more intangible business benefits such as improved staff well being and enhanced company image.”

John Stocks, manager of Carbon Trust in Scotland, commented: “The business benefits of specifying low carbon buildings are significant and numerous, and this research has reaffirmed our strong belief that a low carbon building can only be a good thing for employees, managers and for the business as a whole, both in the short term and the longer term.”