Is it time to start focusing on buildings’ non-energy benefits when doing our ROI?

2020-11-26 13:34 Blog


Everyone talks about energy cost savings today. This is a good focus and we should have that in mind. But isn't it also important to add the non-energy benefits such as gain in health and productivity increase in this calculation?

Buildings are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. 28% of that is used to heat, power and cool the buildings, the so called “in-use” phase.
You could probably list several companies focusing on energy cost savings software solutions. This is a good priority and beneficial since there is a lot of energy to save with making buildings more energy efficient. It is good for the economics and the for the environment and good work should be continued. We should work going towards 100% net zero carbon buildings. We have no options in regards to carbon emissions.

This good focus should let us look into how we could gain more benefits with healthy buildings. Investing in healthy buildings that are people oriented have a lot of benefits to give, from a health and economical perspective.

The WELL Building Institute’s WELL Building Standard is all about to support and advance human health and well-being. With several years of research behind the standard, the WELL Building Standard gives the users ways to implement and measure features that gives better indoor environments.

PNN Lab, a US national research lab, has an initiative going on called the “Healthy Buildings initiative” which aims to improve non-energy benefits to occupants and the broader economy. PNN Lab states: “Environmental psychology, medical research, and building technology studies have revealed correlations on the impact of lighting, comfort, and air quality on human circadian rhythm, the immune system, stress, mood, cognitive function, and other health functions. However, this knowledge has yet to be fully utilized to guide technology and strategy development in the building energy sector to promote positive human outcomes. The major challenge is how to quantify occupant benefits in the context of energy efficiency decision making. Correlations between indoor environmental quality (IEQ) metrics and human performance (e.g., measured by cognitive, speed, or accuracy tests) that are derived from empirical studies and mostly published in academic journals have not been directly translated to building system design and operation.”

In a case study from PNN Lab it was shown that benefits / cost ratio was 0.3 regarding Energy and 14.8 regarding Energy + Health.

Source and image courtesy: PNN Lab

From the same case study it is shown that companies, on average, spend $3 in utilities, $30 in rent and $300 in payroll per square foot per year. The ratio between dollar spent in these categories was already show in 2014 in World Green Building Council’s report on “Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in offices “. A business split on typical operational costs are seen in the image below. A small change in personnel’s health and wellbeing can have a significant impact on the financial savings. So, a win-win situation.

Source and image courtesy: World Green Building Council

To put effort in healthy buildings which are people oriented looks like it is equivalent with a better future. Let’s expand our thinking when doing our ROI.

Spreading natural sunlight in the building
Parans lead sunlight deep into buildings and far away from windows. With the use of highly intelligent technology, we make sunlight an indoor experience. As common as it is to have windows along the facade and that way bring in the natural light, as common it could be to have daylight via a Parans system deeper in into the building.

Want to know more about the value of the Parans system? Download our Light Guide.

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