What is the greatest cost to a building owner? The answer is the people in the building, everything from salaries to benefits. A happy employee is a productive employee, and a healthy employee is a productive employee. That affects the economic bottom line. What are some strategies by which you can keep people happy? Give them a view to the outside, let them open and close their own windows, give them healthy air to breathe, let them adjust their temperature, lighting, etc. Consider how to keep building occupants, employees, and tenants happy so that they don’t leave and go somewhere else. It can cost upwards of $30,000 for a company to replace and train a worker who leaves voluntarily. And that’s a minimum. What are the costs of losing a tenant because the indoor environment is uncomfortable?


Consider this: The national average cost in terms of salaries and benefits per square foot per year is $318. The average cost of the rent or mortgage is around $20. The energy costs for the same square foot is $2.25. So the people are more than ten times the rent, and more than a hundred times the cost of the energy. Ask yourself if it makes more sense to make an investment in the indoor environment, especially good breathable air, or have a small savings in energy? Small changes in performance by people have a big return on investment, considering that the people cost 100 times as much as the energy.

Benefits of better indoor environmental quality include:

  • Reduced liability
  • Reduced employee absenteeism
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Reduced occupant complaints
  • Reduced vacancy costs
  • Increased tenant satisfaction and retention
  • Increased marketability of the property

Source: USGBC LEED Guide