Healthy Offices Make Healthy Employees

There's already empirical evidence that views of the outdoors help hospital patients recover faster and natural light in schools raises students' test scores. Now we have more evidence that "green buildings" improve the office environment in tangible ways.

Two Michigan State University researchers just published a paper called "Effects of Green Building on Employee Health and Productivity." Here's the abstract:

We investigated the effects of improved indoor environmentalquality (IEQ) on perceived health and productivity in occupantswho moved from conventional to green (according to Leadershipin Energy and Environmental Design ratings) office buildings.In 2 retrospective–prospective case studies we found thatimproved IEQ contributed to reductions in perceived absenteeismand work hours affected by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression,and stress and to self-reported improvements in productivity.These preliminary findings indicate that green buildings maypositively affect public health.


USA Today reports that absentee hours averaged 1.12 in the conventional buildings but 0.49 in the green buildings, but neglects to mention what the time frame is (way to go, lame-stream media). It's also not clear precisely which aspects of the green buildings account for that effect. Maybe it's air quality; maybe employees just like being in them more. A skeptic might also wonder if being observed by researchers made employees less likely to report sick.

That said, we shouldn't be surprised that there are health benefits to better buildings. The real challenge is incorporating these findings into policy. It would be nice if there were additional subsidies for green building that reflected their benefits to public health and productivity.

Image: Hearst Tower, Foster + Partners

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore

The common stereotypes about liberals and conservatives are that liberals are bleeding hearts and conservatives are cold-hearted.

It makes sense, conservatives want limited government and to cut social programs that help the more vulnerable members of society. Whereas liberals don't mind paying a few more dollars in taxes to help the unfortunate.

A recent study out of Belgium scientifically supports the notion that people who scored lower on emotional ability tests tend to have right-wing and racist views.

Keep Reading Show less