Greener Buildings Improve Staff and Student Performance

shutterstock_1915823Greener Buildings Improve Staff and Student Performance

Implementing a green cleaning program produces many health and productivity benefits. It also promotes better inventory management of chemicals and equipment, resulting in more efficient and better-planned procurement of goods. As mentioned in our previous blog post, “Butler-Dearden Shows How to Save Money Implementing Green Cleaning Programs”, a comprehensive green cleaning program can save you money and reduce costs associated with cleaning and building maintenance.

Green cleaning programs, which help improve indoor environmental quality (EIQ) by eliminating or reducing the use of harsh chemicals, can help organizations and schools realize and maintain a higher level of health in their daily operations. The benefits of these programs include:

•Reduces illnesses and absenteeism
•Minimizes risks of employees developing allergies and sensitivities
•Reduces injuries to custodial staff and workers’ compensation claims
•Promotes increased learning and productivity
•Reduces the stress on the overall environment as a result of routine maintenance
•Improves indoor air quality by reducing airborne dust and chemical gases
•Reduces wear and tear on building and assets, increasing their values and lifespan

Jack Collins explains that “these soft cost advantages are sometimes the hardest to show and demonstrate to a customer, but they result in the greatest in benefits over time.” Some of the best examples of the success and gains from green cleaning programs can be found in public schools and educational organizations over the past twenty years. For schools, their younger populations are often hypersensitive to environmental contaminants and benefit greatly from the reduction of exposure to cleaning chemicals and their byproducts.

The Syracuse, New York public schools improved attendance 11.7% and realized an additional $2,512,250 in state funding over a three year period. By creating a cleaner and healthier learning environment, distractions such as illness and classroom discomfort are drastically cut back, allowing teachers and students to excel. A study by Dr. Michael Berryman at the Charles Young Elementary School in Washington, D.C. demonstrated test score improvements of a remarkable 27% in reading and 49% in mathematics, after a green cleaning program was implemented at the school.

In addition to creating a more livable and workable environment, green cleaning programs can also reduce health risks. Dan Wagner on Buildings.com reports that the University of Georgia reduced annual custodial injuries related to cleaning chemicals from 39 to 17 over a three-year period. They also reduced lost hours from 4,474 a year to 386 in those same three years, which is a 91% improvement. It seems straight forward that maintaining a healthier work environment would improve the health of the staff and reduce hours lost to injuries and sickness. A few studies have gone so far as to prove that cleaner work spaces actually promote worker productivity and performance.

•Rocky Mountain Institute’s 1994 study cited how improving indoor environmental quality improved worker productivity by 16%.
•MIT Publishing’s study by Gregory Kats of 33 green building projects showed dramatic improvements in decreasing worker sick time and increasing productivity. He estimated an increased productivity benefit from $37 to $55 per square foot of space.
•Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s study found that U.S. businesses could save as much as $58 billion in lost sick time and an additional $200 billion in worker performance if improvements were made to indoor air quality.

Assessment resources and tools to guide schools in establishing a green cleaning program are available at Green Clean Schools.

While many of these worker productivity studies were looking directly at all factors (air quality, lighting, etc.), that impact indoor environmental quality, a comprehensive green cleaning program is always part of a true “green building”.

Our green cleaning blog series will continue with next week’s blog on “Getting started with a corporate green cleaning program is as easy as 1-2-3.”

For more information on these studies or for an analysis of your facilities and how you can implement a green cleaning program today, please contact Eric O’Connor at Butler-Dearden. We are here to help in any way we can, and have the expertise and product offerings to move you in a green direction.

Written by Jack Collins

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