Do Green Buildings Make People Work Harder and Make Students Smarter?

Does Green Cleaning actually help improve student test scores?    YES!!    Do people who work in a green cleaning building get more done?    YES!!   This has all been proven through scientific research.  Simply changing how a building is cleaned has dramatic results in productivity.

Keep in mind a comprehensive Green Cleaning Program is much more than buying milder cleaning chemicals, as without looking at your total cleaning strategy and techniques, you will not realize these incredible benefits.  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
•Improves 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

As someone who has discussed the advantages of green cleaning with school administrators and contract cleaners for the past 10 years, it is these “soft cost advantages” , which are sometimes the hardest to show and demonstrate to a client, 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, and from being in cleaner buildings.

Steve Ashkin of the Ashkin Group cites in BSCAI Services Magazine on-line, the results of 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.  BSCAI services magazine:    www.servicesmag.org/component/k2/item/309-the-health-and-finances-of-green-cleaning/309-the-health-and-finances-of-green-cleaning

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%. www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/Studies-Relate-IAQ-and-Productivity--5581

•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. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s study:    www.iaqscience.lbl.gov/performance-summary.html

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

Go green today!!  Your staff, students, guests, and employees will thank you, and you will realize the direct cost savings of having happier and healthier people in your buildings

Author:  Jack Collins, Regional Sales Manager, The Bullen Companies