21 Apr

Where Sustainability, Productivity, and Well-Being Meet


In today’s battle for talent, sustainability matters. According to a recent survey published by Fast Company, nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of company sustainability. Less than a quarter of gen X respondents said the same, and 17% of baby boomers. With this shift in ideology in mind, it would put companies at a competitive advantage to invest in sustainability now, and that includes the work environment you provide for your employees. Beyond attracting talent, studies have shown that sustainable work environments boost employee wellness and productivity too—making green workspaces the intersection where sustainability, productivity, and employee well-being meet.

As Earth Day approaches, the Kolar team is mindful of all aspects of design that impact our planet. There are choices we as designers and brands themselves can make to leave the earth better than we found it. In this article, we dive into just a few of the many ways we can prioritize sustainability in our businesses.

So how can companies go green when it comes to their workplace? As defined by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), a “green” building is a building that in its design, construction, or operation reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life. The WorldGBC also outlines several aspects of how buildings can go green:

  • Efficient use of energy, water, and other resources.

  • Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy.

  • Pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling.

  • Good indoor environmental air quality.

  • Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical, and sustainable.

  • Consideration of the environment in design, construction, and operation.

  • Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction and operation.

  • A design that enables adaptation to a changing environment.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a rating system that is most widely used by green buildings today, providing a framework for sustainable building and serving as a globally recognized symbol of sustainability leadership and achievement. To earn a LEED rating a project must meet certain prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and indoor environmental quality. Projects are rated on a points system based on how they meet the LEED criteria, and are given a rating of Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

The investment in LEED ultimately benefits your bottom line as well. In an estimate from LEED-certified buildings between 2015-2018, buildings saw $1.2 billion in energy savings, $149.5 million in water savings, $715.3 million in maintenance savings, and $54.2 million in waste savings. 

Some of the world’s most iconic buildings are LEED-certified, including The Empire State Building in New York City, Facebook Headquarters in California, and Shanghai Tower in China. Any work environment can be LEED certified, whether it is a small office, school, hospital, or skyscraper.

In a survey conducted by Porter Novelli for the United States Green Business Council (USGBC), LEED buildings are linked to improved productivity, health and wellness, and the survey showed that these attributes, as well as a space that provides clean and high-quality indoor air, directly contribute to employees feeling happy and fulfilled at work. More than 80 percent of respondents say that being productive on the job and having access to clean, high-quality indoor air contributes to their overall workplace happiness. In addition, 85 percent of employees in LEED-certified buildings also say their access to quality outdoor views and natural sunlight boosts their overall productivity and happiness, and 80 percent say the enhanced air quality improves their physical health and comfort.

“We discovered that today’s employees are more motivated than ever to work for a company that promotes not just a higher standard of living for its employees, but also of its community,” said former president and CEO of USGBC Mahesh Ramanujam. “In today’s highly competitive job market, if companies want to attract and retain highly-skilled, talented employees, they must demonstrate a commitment to environmental, human, and economic sustainability.”


Kolar is an award-winning design strategy firm that specializes in interiors and experiential graphic design. When it comes to sustainable building, our experts are ready to collaborate with construction and architect teams to deliver top-notch results that align with your brand and mission. To learn more about Kolar projects and how we can help realize your vision for greener, better work environments, contact us today.