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    4 ways to make your office more green — and more profitable

    Being environmentally friendly doesn’t necessarily mean losing money, sometimes it actually helps you be more profitable.


    Modern dental office

    2. Make your building happy

    A lot of focus on environmental issues deals with areas such as air or water quality. But an important part of the environment is people. Just as reducing waste can make for healthier soil or air, it can also make for healthier people.

    Have you heard of sick building syndrome? It’s an increasingly common phenomenon where office workers report feeling ill just from being in an office building. Symptoms include everything from headache, dizziness and nausea to personality changes.

    No one knows the exact cause, but several culprits are suspected. Chemical contaminants, like motor vehicle exhaust coming through ventilation shafts or from sources like adhesives or upholstery could be one cause; other sources could include bacteria trapped in air conditioning or in pipes or just poor ventilation.

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    Beyond these physical sources, psychological factors may play a factor. A high-stress office can be a problem. Poor communication and a bad working environment can affect the health of your employees. But there’s also the problem of bad lighting, poor ergonomics and humidity.

    A fair number of these problems can be solved by improving the health of the building. Put in more ventilation. Improve your seating for those who stay seated, and brush up on ergonomics tips for employees who are on their feet or who work with patients.

    If this sounds like a lot of work (and a lot of expense), know that it’s all worth it in the end. Consider this study on the effect of green buildings and productivity, showing that Energy Star-labeled buildings tend to be healthier buildings, which create healthier and happier employees. Once you take into account the amount of sick time and the general lack of productivity in a bad building, the economics start to make sense. In real dollar amounts, the study estimates that owner-occupants can count on over $100 per square foot of building in extra value.

    Additional research shows that emphasizing environmental friendliness can actual make people happier. Why wouldn’t you do something that leads to happier employees? Consider your marketing efforts — tell your patients that you’re doing everything you can to create a healthy environment. If it works for your employees, why wouldn’t it work for them?

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