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Green Retrofits More Than Pay for Themselves

Times are tough. Perhaps your company can't afford to build or relocate to a new LEED-certified building. But that doesn't mean you have to skip the green upgrade: Even retrofitting your workspace to meet LEED standards can lead to significant improvements in your company's image and bottom line, according to a recent survey by green real estate consultant Charles Lockwood and Deloitte.

In describing one company's motives for a green retrofit, a survey respondent said, "We wanted to make a statement, not only to the people who work for us, but also to the business community and the community in general: 'Hey look, there is a way to be economically responsible to your business and environmentally responsible to your community.' "

Indeed, all of the survey's 16 respondents reported an increase in goodwill and brand equity after implementing a green retrofit, which, as it happens, also results in annual utility cost savings of 10%.

But lower utility bills aren't the only way a green retrofit pays for itself: The healthier environment of a green building reduces employee absenteeism and illness, and increases worker retention. According to Lockwood, when Toyota (TM) moved into a LEED gold building, absenteeism dropped 14%. At PNC (PNC), staff turnover dropped by half compared with standard PNC buildings.

Green buildings also increase employee productivity. For every 1% increase in productivity, employers save $600 to $700 per worker per year, according to Lockwood. On average, he says, employers find that productivity increases by 15% annually after a green retrofit.

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