Saturday, December 23, 2006

Green buildings enhance ROI on Human Capital

It is well known that human capital or " people" in any organization are key to its success and can provide critical competitive edge for sustainability and growth.

I recently read an article describing the importance of this fact and suggesting a multi dimension role for Human Resources (HR) departments including; training, risk management,productivity enhancement,and routine benefit management. This article made me think about the relationship of Facilities with "people" or Human Capital. How does a green building relate to corporate bottom line? How the buildings where we work or shop or learn help enhance our performance or productivity?

The secret lies in the fact that we are humans and have natural intelligences and our thoughts and actions are affected by our environment. Think about our jails where we put criminals. The worst ones are kept in solitary confinement where a small dark room is what they get for their deed as punishment. Obviously such an environment is used to punish them and the offer to be able to live in a room with windows and other people is a reward for good behavior. Such conditions are not limited to jails. Unfortunately we have normal work conditions for many workers who work in windowless basement office cubicles and the management expects great results. Give these folks a naturally lit room and connectivity to nature and then do not be surprised if they start performing better. Our sense when exposed to nature inspires us subconsciously, we feel better and then we perform better.

This is what a green building creates for people in office buildings, shopping centers, and class rooms. Any living organism needs the natural healthy environment to grow as we observe plants near the windows versus the location with no natural light. So should we build the cheapest building or factory, office building, schools and shopping centers with no regard to the most precious content - "The Human Capital"? Green buildings do not cost more over the life cycle of the facility. They save money with lower operating costs and increased productivity which directly benefits the bottom line.

In summary, there is a very important link to the space where we live, work or do other functions affecting our performance. The leaders managing the public and private organizations should follow the examples of companies such as Toyota, Wal-Mart, GE, PNC Bank, and Herman Miller. These companies have adopted a sustainable green philosophy to reduce their energy costs and help in environmental preservation. These efforts also resulted in giving the best possible environment to their people and increasing the profits. Similarly, college campuses at Univ. of Maryland, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale are also leading the way in using green buildings to reduce life cycle costs and have also observed the added benefit of improving learning and student satisfaction.

Every organization wants positive results and their leaders must understand the relationship of the building envelop with performance of people occupying the space. The most valuable benefit is to help fight global warming and control climate change with an added bonus of achieving higher return from the investment in Human Capital.


At 11:09 AM, Blogger Green Dude said...

We love to see the momentum of green homes going mainstream worldwide. Listed Green believes green living environments can and will make a huge impact of our carbon footprint. So much of what we do within our home, makes such a large impression on resources. But I must admit, green building has the best ROI and Listed Green will elevate those values as much as possible. Listed Green will support all energy efficient developments worldwide. Spread the word.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger ram said...

Any media that promotes green building projects is helping the cause.USGBC does this as an international organization. Good luck to your listed green!

At 7:23 PM, Blogger Percy Eve said...

But what does 'green' actually mean? The term lacks quantification and is essentially arbitrary. Do you mean, 'greener' than the standard, the norm? If so, wouldn't it be better if 'being greener' was itself a normative concept? I see many postive developments and approaches being taken, but I fear that green-this-green-that rhetoric is awash with danger. A traditional mud-hut is surely 'greener' than some hi-tec modern building, regardless of how efficient it is. It's of the same ilk as 'sustainable development', simply a paradox. There is essentially no such things as 'green building projects'. Every development has an impact. Sure this can be, and must be reduced to the smallest negative impact possible, but as long as we can't define what 'green' actually really means, we should be looking for other metaphors, or better yet, simply language.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger ram shrivastava said...

It is correct that the word Green is being used by many and with many meanings. For building projects, it is defined by U.S. Green building Council. For people it probably is an attitude of living with less impact on the environmental resources. Someone living in a earthen hut and growing their own food, walking to the work site has the least footprint from generating CO2 point of view. In industrialized society we do indulge and consume a lot more, live in bigger homes. What Green means is to recognize the need to conserve energy, water and natural resources as we change our way of living.
Key is to think on personal level and try to make a difference.


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