Despite the business world’s growing interest in sustainability, many companies still question the value, or return on investment (ROI), of green retrofits. However, the value of green retrofits can positively improve your bottom line – and the environment.
Making improvements to our built environment, is the single greatest opportunity for reducing society’s significant energy demands. According to the US Department of Energy, it is estimated that buildings account for 38 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 40 percent of total energy use. But this isn’t only an environmental issue, it’s also an economical one. The Electric Power Research Institute reports that energy and energy related expenditures costs companies $800 billion annually in the US, and roughly 42 percent of the energy used to heat and cool a space is wasted.
According to some of the business and Corporate Real Estate Executives who are riding the green wave, cost-reductions were not even among the primary motives for undergoing green retrofits.
Interestingly, executives’ main motivations for initiating a green retrofit were: improving indoor air and environmental quality, demonstrating corporate environmental commitment, improving public relations and publicity, improving employee productivity, and improving employee attraction and retention. The study concluded that a majority of the respondents achieved many of the stated benefits.
After a green retrofit, 93 percent of survey respondents saw a positive difference in the company’s ability to attract talent, 87 percent reported seeing an improvement in workforce productivity, 75 percent witnessed an improvement in employee health and 73 percent reported that they had achieved cost reductions as a result of implementing green retrofits.
The #1 Advantage of a Green Retrofit: Energy Savings
As energy prices continue to rise, the relative benefits of energy efficiency will become increasingly important. Even though evidence indicates that energy savings for green building retrofits are not as significant as those from new builds, the savings are nevertheless substantial.
Retrofit measures to improve energy efficiency may include: heating and ventilation system upgrades, lightning upgrades, water saving fittings and renewable energy installations.
Using sustainable materials during a retrofit can also provide long-term financial benefits, due to the fewer number of replacement cycles and maintenance required from sustainable materials.
The #2 Advantage of a Green Retrofit: Increased employee productivity
From a business perspective, there will always be clear incentives for improving employee productivity.
Research suggests that by making even the smallest improvements to increase productivity, companies can generate higher financial benefits than they would have from more energy efficient buildings.
Green building attributes, including: high levels of natural daylight, appropriate levels and types of artificial light, green materials, outdoor air ventilation, thermal comfort as well as open spaces, have all been proven to positively influence employee productivity.
The #3 Advantage of a Green Retrofit: Positively impacts employee health and well-being
It has been validated by a number of studies that using green retrofitting to provide employees with a view that includes more natural scenery can improve well-being. When exposed to nature, workers exhibit reduced signs of stress, including reduced levels of frustration, increased patience and overall satisfaction.
This evidence supports the notion of biophilia, or the idea that humans hold a biological need for connection with nature. Being connected to nature during the workday can positively affect our personal well-being, productivity and societal relationships.