Work well-being and indoor environmental quality
People in Western cultures spend approximately 90% of their lives in building environments such as residential, office buildings, or other indoor locations. It is therefore essential that an indoor environment supports occupants’ well-being and productivity. Many studies for office buildings have already proven that employees who are less satisfied with their indoor environmental quality (IEQ) also feel less productive. Since personnel expenses are up to ten times higher than real estate expenses, planners, engineers, and firms have begun to shed more light on how to enhance employees’ well-being and productivity by creating more supportive workplaces.
Initial research on this topic started more than nine decades ago with the Hawthorne experiments where the impact of changed in lighting on the productivity of workers was assessed. Lighting – together with indoor air quality, room temperature and noise – contributes to the so called hard or tangible factors of IEQ, since they are all measurable on a certain scale (e.g. temperature in Celsius). Furthermore, there are also soft or intangible factors – e.g. ergonomics, office layouts, biophilia and views – that have a significant impact on occupants´ well-being, health and productivity. From a real estate perspective, realizing all of these IEQ factors in modern (office) buildings is a primary cost driver. Therefore, it is essential to assess the different impacts of these IEQ factors groups on occupants' well-being, health and productivity. Internalizing the occupants' perspective in sustainable real estate research thus can derive recommendations for real estate investors (as landlords) and corporations (as tenants) whether their investments in sustainable buildings indeed pay off.