- Acoustic Comfort
- Aesthetic Challenges
- Aesthetic Opportunities
- Air Barrier Systems in Buildings
- Air Decontamination
- Balancing Security/Safety and Sustainability Objectives
- Best Practices for Accessibility Compliance
- Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
- Cool Metal Roofing
- Designing Buildings to Resist Explosive Threats
- Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
- Electric Lighting Controls
- Electrical Safety
- Energy Analysis Tools
- Energy Codes and Standards
- Energy Efficient Lighting
- Evaluating and Selecting Green Products
- Extensive Vegetative Roofs
- Facility Performance Evaluation (FPE)
- Fuel Cells and Renewable Hydrogen
- Glazing Hazard Mitigation
- High-Performance HVAC
- Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA)
- Mold and Moisture Dynamics
- Natural Ventilation
- Passive Solar Heating
- Playground Design and Equipment
- Psychosocial Value of Space
- Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM)
- Retrofitting Existing Buildings to Resist Explosive Threats
- Security and Safety in Laboratories
- Seismic Design Principles
- Solar Water Heating
- Sun Control and Shading Devices
- Sustainable Laboratory Design
- Sustainable O&M Practices
- The Changing Nature of Organizations, Work, and Workplace
- Therapeutic Environments
- Threat/Vulnerability Assessments and Risk Analysis
- Water Conservation
- Windows and Glazing
Last updated: 09-30-2015
Effective and efficient use of space means creating the right environment for concentration, learning, communication, and collaboration—the building blocks of productivity for building occupants.
Organizations, business practices, educational settings and learning methodologies, and the workforce have changed dramatically in the past two decades. Technological advances, demographic shifts, and continual demands for innovation have created pressures for environments to catch up with the changing nature of organizations, work and workplace.
Organizational effectiveness today means using space more wisely. This does not just mean cutting costs. It means designing for flexibility to enable space to change as work groups, activities, and projects evolve. Information in these Productive pages must be considered together with other design objectives and within a total project context in order to achieve quality, high-performance buildings. Also, workplace productivity strategies support sustainable design principles, functional programming and functionality, and should be taken on balance for the longevity of all the issues considered.
The Office of Government-wide Policy at the GSA headquarters building in Washington, DC was designed to maximize flexibility, allowing new occupants to change the space to fit their group and individual needs.
It is often hard to quantify the impacts of specific components of the indoor environment on productivity, because individual and group effectiveness is tied to many different factors-including compensation levels, management practices, and environmental comfort. It is difficult, if not impossible, to isolate individual physical factors, such as the presence or absence of team rooms, daylighting, natural meeting places, or control over the environment. This problem is exacerbated in the case of employees whose "output" is knowledge or insight that cannot be easily quantified.
Nonetheless, an increasing number of studies are beginning to suggest that support for communication and collaboration as well as for individual cognitive activity are fundamental aspects of organizational productivity. The GSA agrees and concludes in The Integrated Workplace that "since people are the most important resource and greatest expense of any organization, the long-term cost benefits of a properly designed, user-friendly work environment should be factored into any initial cost considerations."
One way to do such "factoring" is to consider the total life-cycle costs of the building or property each year. In private sector offices, such costs are typically, in order of magnitude:
- $200 per square foot per year for salaries
- $20 per square foot per year for amortized bricks and mortar costs, and
- $2.00 per square foot per year for energy.
In this situation, an additional $2 per square foot per year for bricks and mortar costs (e.g. for providing greater flexibility) would pay for itself if it generated a modest 1% increase in salary "productivity." Note: Design strategies that increase user satisfaction and that improve individual and group effectiveness should therefore be considered not as cost 'extras,' but as productivity investments that enhance an organization's overall success.
Buildings can be more effective, exciting places to work, learn, and live by encouraging adaptability, improving comfort, supporting sense of community, and by providing connections to the natural environment, natural light, and view.
There are five fundamental principles of productive building designs:
Promote Health and Well-Being
Indoor environments strongly affect human health. An effective environment should be designed to support and enhance the health and well-being of its occupants. Sustainable design principles also help achieve this objective.
Provide Comfortable Environments
An environment designed and operated to provide the highest achievable levels of visual, acoustic, ergonomic, and thermal comforts for its occupants is the underpinning of worker effectiveness.
Design for the Changing Workplace
Providing spaces with flexibility, social support, and technology to promote new ways of working, learning and engaging in a number of activities is a cornerstone of change and innovation.
Integrate Technological Tools
Effectively integrating technological tools and distribution networks required in today's environments to enable occupants to perform activities or their duties starts first and foremost with properly designed pathways and spaces.
Assure Reliable Systems and Spaces
Reliability is one of the greatest concerns for building occupants—it directly affects their safety, health, and comfort. Occupants must be able to rely on sufficient functional space, building systems, equipment, and tools that function consistently and are properly maintained.
Relevant Codes and Standards
- Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA 2007)
- Executive Order 13693, "Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade"
- Federal Acquisition Regulations, Parts 48, Value Engineering
- Federal Acquisition Regulations, Parts 52, Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses
- OMB Circular A-131
- Public Law 104-106, Section 4306, Value Engineering for Federal Agencies
Building / Space Types
- EPA National Center for Environmental Research
- U.S. General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service, Office of Real Property Asset Management
- The New Federal Workplace—A Report on the Performance of Six Workplace 20·20 Projects (PDF 4.0 MB), U.S. General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service
- Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture
- The American Institute of Architects
- American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
- American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE)
- CoreNet Global
- International Facility Management Association (IFMA)
- National Research Council of Canada—Institute for Research in Construction—A leading international organization studying the effects of environmental comfort on occupant productivity
- The Agile Workplace: Supporting People and Their Work by Gartner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 22 Industry Sponsors, 2001.
- Assessing Green Building Performance: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 12 GSA Buildings (PDF 11.2 MB), Kim M. Fowler, Emily M. Rauch, July 2008.
- Collaborative Knowledge Work Environments (PDF 186 KB) by Judith Heerwagen, Kevin Kampschroer, Kevin Powell, and Vivian Loftness. Building Research & Information, 32(6):510-528, 2004.
- Daylighting and Human Performance by Lisa Heschong. ASHRAE Journal, June 2002.
- Disproving Widespread Myths about Workplace Design by Michael Brill.
- DOE Building Studies by the Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University, 1994.
- "Environmental Satisfaction, Personal Control and the Positive Correlation to Increased Productivity" (PDF 222 KB) White paper prepared by Carol Lomonaco and Dennis Miller, Johnson Controls, Inc.
- Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service, P100 by the General Service Administration (GSA).
- Further Findings from the Office of Environment Survey: Productivity. Proceedings of Indoor Air '90: Fifth International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate by Gary Raw and Michael Roys. Toronto, Ontario: 1:231-36, 1990.
- Global Sustainability Perspective—July 2011, Green Buildings and Office Worker Productivity (PDF 364 KB) by Jones Lang Lasalle.
- Green Building Performance: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of 22 GSA Buildings (PDF 6.95 MB), GSA Public Buildings Service, August 2011.
- Green Buildings, Organizational Success and Occupant Productivity (PDF 184 KB) by Judith Heerwagen, Building Research & Information, 28 (5/6): 353-367, 2000.
- "Greening the Building and the Bottom Line: Increasing Productivity Through Energy-Efficient Design", White paper by Rocky Mountain Institute.
- Healthy Buildings and their Impact on Productivity. Proceedings of Indoor Air '93: Sixth International International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate by David Wyon. Helsinki, Finland: 6:3-13, 1993.
- How IEQ Affects Health, Productivity (PDF 220 KB) by William J. Fisk, P.E., Member ASHRAE. ASHRAE Journal, May 2002.
- IEQ and the Impact on Building Occupants (PDF 105 KB) by Satish Kumar, Ph.D., Member ASHRAE and William J. Fisk, P.E., Member ASHRAE. ASHRAE Journal, April 2002.
- The Integrated Workplace: A Comprehensive Approach to Developing Workspace (PDF 3.7 MB) by Office of Real Property in the Office of Government-wide Policy of the U.S. General Services Administration. May 1999.
- Innovative Workplaces: Benefits and Best Practices (PDF 4.14 MB) developed as a joint project between the General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Governmentwide Policy's Office of Real Property Management and the GSA Public Buildings Service Office of Applied Science, January 2006.
- The New Office: With 20 International Case Studies by Francis Duffy. Antique Collectors Club, 1997.
- "Relationships Between the Indoor Environment and Productivity: A Literature Review," ASHRAE Transactions by N. Sensharma, et al. 1998.
- Rensselaer's West Bend Mutual Study: Using Advanced Office Technologies to Increase Productivity by Walter Kroner, et al. Troy, NY: Center for Architectural Research, 1992. One of the most carefully documented studies on increases in productivity as a result of improved environmental quality.
- Total Workplace Performance: Rethinking the Office Environment by Stanley Aronoff and Audrey Kaplan (eds.). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: WDL Publications, 1995.
- Using Office Design to Increase Productivity by Michael Brill, et al, and the Buffalo Organization for Social and Technological Innovation (BOSTI). 1994. A major study of the relationship between productivity and user satisfaction in 6,000 office buildings throughout the United States during a five-year period.
- Workplace by Design: Mapping the High-Performance Workscape by Franklin Becker and Fritz Steele. Jossey-Bass, 1995.
- Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK)—an interactive portal offering online access to peer-reviewed research projects and case studies in all facets of building, from predesign, design, and construction through occupancy and reuse.
- Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics—Carnegie Mellon University
- Center for the Built Environment—The Contribution of Building Design and Operation to Productivity, University of California at Berkeley
- GSA Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool)—SFTool's immersive virtual environment addresses all your sustainability planning, designing and procurement needs.