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Mental Health in Green Buildings

Abstract 2

Author 1: Brittany Spadafore, MA1,2* Author 2: Jillian Zitars, BA1,2 Author 3: Simon Coulombe, PhD1,3,4 Author 4: Manuel Riemer, PhD 1,2 Author 5: Bianca Dreyer, MA1,2 Author 6: Stephanie Whitney, PhD5
2. Understanding the Psycho-Environmental Potential Functions of a Green Building to Promote Employee Health, Wellbeing and Productivity: A Case Study Perspective

Green buildings are increasingly revered as the gold standard for providing superior office environments that reduce the ecological impacts of buildings and promote employee wellbeing. However, existing, mostly quantitative, research has shown mixed results regarding the impact that green buildings have on wellbeing, and gaps remain in understanding how specific green building features contribute to occupant wellbeing. Applying the Psycho-Environmental Potential (PEP) model to the green building setting, the present study examines the lived experience of employees (N = 22) working in a LEED Gold green-office building in Canada. Qualitative photovoice interviews were conducted to explore how the green building meets the seven functions of a setting according to the expanded PEP model: shelter and security, social contact regulation, symbolic identification, task instrumentality, pleasure, growth, and sustainability. The study found that the presence of green certification specifications and features intended to enhance the environmental efficiency of the building does not inherently result in the fulfillment of all the psycho-environmental needs. Individual differences, needs, and preferences play a role in how design, green building certification, and specification decisions influence employees, indicating that it is the versatility of spaces, attuned to individual differences, that is crucial for the fulfillment of needs. These findings point to the importance of people-centred design in the promotion of employee health, wellbeing and productivity in green office buildings, thereby empirically informing the work of designers and architects. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the applicability and value of utilizing the psycho-environmental potential model in green office buildings. 


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