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System Impacts

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Financial Impact

Improvements in indoor environmental quality have the potential to reduce liability to building owners, increase the resale value of the building and improve the health of building occupants. As a result, IEQ has some of the largest direct financial impacts over the life cycle of the facility.

In aggregate, improvements in IEQ have been estimated to have potential annual savings of:

  • $6-14 billion from reduced respiratory disease
  • $1-4 billion from reduced allergies and asthma
  • $10-30 billion from reduced symptoms of sick building syndrome in the US alone.1

Healthy occupants miss less work and perform tasks at sustained levels, creating financial incentives from both the bottom-up and top-down.

Worker salaries constitute a majority of the costs accrued over the buildings life cycle, and as a result any increase in worker productivity can lead to significant returns on investments. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Green Developments in Real Estate, office worker salaries are estimated to be 72 times higher than energy costs, and they account for 92% of the life-cycle costs of a building.2 Other studies report even higher numbers.3 Estimates find that productivity increases of a few percent to up to 10% can occur with conscious IEQ renovation, often times far outweighing the initial investment.2 Direct improvements in worker performance from enhanced IEQ have the potential annual savings of $20-160 billion in the US.1

1. Fisk, W.J,”Health and Productivity Gains from Better Indoor Environments and Their Relationship with Building Energy Efficiency.” Annual Rev. Energy Environ. 25 (2000): 537-66 2. Rocky Mountain Institute | Romm, Jospeph J. and Browning, William D. “Greening the Building and the Bottom Line” (1994) 3. DOE LBL | IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank - Cost Effectiveness of Improving Indoor Environments to Increase Productivity

 

IEQ investments can face barriers even with promising payback potential. Quantifying the economic benefit of improved occupant morale and performance can be difficult and often the owner does not directly benefit from the improvements. Bringing the owner and occupants together at the integrative process table and sharing benefits across all stakeholders can provide the necessary incentives to invest in occupant health.

Findings and Case Studies

Finding: $2 billion estimated annual value of work performance gains from avoiding high temperatures in the winter.
Scope: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study of 100 U.S. office buildingsSource: DOE LBL | IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank - Better Control of Indoor Temperatures

Finding: $9-14 billion economic benefit associated with increasing ventilation rates to 32 cfm per person.
Scope: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study of 100 office buildingsSource: DOE LBL | IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank - Increased Ventilation Rates

Finding: $3.4 billion annual economic benefit, with $0.4 billion implementation costs, through integration of thermal occupant controls.
Scope: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory StudySource: DOE LBL | IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank - Better Control of Indoor Temperatures

Finding: $0.2-1.1 billion annual economic benefit from improved particle filtration.
Scope: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study of 100 office buildingsSource: DOE LBL | IAQ Scientific Findings Resource Bank - Improved Particle Filtration

Did You Know?

IEQ improvements can save $10-30 billion from reduced symptoms of sick building syndrome.Source: Fisk, W.J,”Health and Productivity Gains from Better Indoor Environments and Their Relationship with Building Energy Efficiency.” Annual Rev. Energy Environ. 25 (2000): 537-66

The estimated benefits of a 30% reduction of dampness and mold in offices include 1.5 million days of avoided absence per year, worth $0.5 billion per year in avoided lost work.

Source: LBNL - Benefits of Improving Indoor Environmental Quality

IEQ improvements can save $20-160 billion from direct impacts on occupant productivity.Source: Fisk, W.J,”Health and Productivity Gains from Better Indoor Environments and Their Relationship with Building Energy Efficiency.” Annual Rev. Energy Environ. 25 (2000): 537-66