LEED Certification Improves Wellbeing

Thu, 2015-05-07 10:32

Last Updated: 2017-02-16 10:01

Last night I attended an Elon University alumni event in Charlotte, NC. Held at the prestigious Quail Hollow Golf Club, hundreds of alumni and parents gathered to hear updates about the private university. A prominent theme throughout the evening was the importance of relationship-building and how people are the key to professional development and success. Not only did I see parallels on only hiring the best instructors who care about student success, but I was intrigued to hear President Leo Lambert’s take on architecture at Elon.

As you may know, Elon University is commonly voted one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. When I last wrote a post about my alma mater (back in 2009), Elon had just built its first LEED-certified building – Lindner Hall. It is my understanding that the university now plans to pursue LEED certification for every new facility it builds. And let me tell you, the campus has changed so much in the last 5 years!

Elon University Construction

When speaking about the proposed School of Communications quad of buildings, President Lambert assured the crowd that an unbelievable amount of time went into the design considerations – inside and out – to encourage relationship-building. From chair design and windows to the proximity of student-professor spaces, a great deal of attention was given to designing the building with the intent to encourage interaction. Lambert cited a survey with results showing that students with an attentive mentor often go on to the working world with an enhanced sense of integrity and commitment toward success. These survey results, among other things, helped to drive the focus on human interaction when it came to the building design choices.

So Why is This Important?

This got me thinking about LEED Certification and why it exists. We’re all familiar – if not vaguely – with the fact that LEED Certification provides an outlet for a more durable, cost-effective, and healthy environment for occupants and building owners. But the U.S. Green Building Council has also noted the intangible values that a LEED Certification brings to a building – enhanced indoor air quality and design considerations lead to greater employee productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty.

There are a number of studies that show the increased productivity levels as well as health benefits. For one, a study from the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design & Construction showed that absenteeism due to allergies or asthma dropped by as much as 50% for employees who moved from a conventional office space to a LEED-certified office space.

LEED Certification at Elon UniversityWhat I’m getting at is that LEED Certification is more than just a tool for sustainable design and green building. A special side effect of LEED Certification is the ability to enhance personal wellbeing. It’s amazing how decisions based on materials, lighting, water efficiency, and design can actually lead to improvements in occupant health!

Ironically, this brings me back to my blog post from 2009 called LEED at the University Level. It did not occur to me at the time that university administrators would be designing their buildings with the intangible benefits in mind. This was brought to light at the event last night when President Lambert took the time to explain the care and attention made in these design decisions as a way of better uniting students and professors. It was really a beautiful conversation (that I wish I had recorded!) about just how much Elon administrators want to encourage greater relationships. The studies show that relationship-building leads to improved productivity and motivation, and I was so impressed by the extent to which Elon University staff would go to drive this point home.

Especially at the university level, LEED Certification is an opportunity to cultivate personal growth, development, and wellbeing. I swell with pride thinking about how my university has taken the time to design its facilities in this way. It brings a whole new meaning to all the “Most Beautiful Campus” honors. So kudos, Elon, and all the other colleges and universities pursuing LEED Certification on their facilities!

If you work for an educational institution and you're interested in pursuing LEED, please give us a call at 800-460-2575, start a live chat, or visit our LEED training page to get started.

Construction image courtesy of  The Times News and supporting articles from Jay Kubert, USGBC, and Michigan State University