Building Occupant Satisfaction, Sustainability Link Revealed

Perkins + Will's award-winning, sustainable modular classroom, Sprout Space™, was built on the west lawn of the National Building Museum in Washington.
Perkins + Will’s sustainable modular classroom, Sprout Space™, was built on the west lawn of the National Building Museum in Washington. (Photo: Interface.)

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

DTZ, a commercial real estate services provider, has completed research revealing a link between building occupant satisfaction and sustainability efforts in buildings.

DTZ Vice President, Sustainability Services Allison Porter and DTZ Economist Rebecca Rockey evaluated responses to Kingsley Associates’ surveys relative to common sustainability certifications. The study examined three building-specific certifications: the U.S. Green Building Council‘s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED EB), EPA‘s ENERGY STAR, and the Office of Management and Budget‘s (OMB) Sustainability and Energy Scorecard, a sustainability evaluation standard for federal government-occupied buildings. Porter and Rockey analyzed 61 office buildings in the Washington, DC, region.

“This research confirms what we’ve long assumed—that sustainability impacts how tenants perceive their workplace,” said Marla Maloney, President, Asset Services, Americas at DTZ. “It also bolsters previous research linking sustainability to improved property values and returns. Sustainability is not only a measure to improve our built and natural environment, it’s also a sound, forward-thinking business practice with a proven, positive business impact, from lowering costs to improving client services and satisfaction.”

Research findings include:

  • Buildings with at least one sustainability certification had an average Kingsley score seven points higher than buildings with no certifications.
  • Buildings with one certification had slightly higher Kingsley scores than those with no certifications, while buildings with two or more certifications had significantly higher scores.
  • ENERGY STAR buildings’ Kingsley scores averaged 30 points higher than non-ENERGY STAR.
  • LEED EB buildings’ Kingsley scores averaged 10 points better than buildings without a LEED EB certification.
  • The OMB Sustainability and Energy Scorecard did not have a statistically significant impact on scores.

“Sustainability proponents often make claims about the benefits of environmental responsibility without offering proof. We’d rather rely on the facts–we serve our clients best when we offer evidence-based advice,” Porter said. “These findings are an excellent basis to continue our research on the interaction between sustainability efforts and key business drivers. Building owners and users alike can use this kind of data to make better real estate decisions.”