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Health, well-being and productivity in retail: The impact of green buildings on people and profit

In addition to the Health, Well-being and Productivity in Offices Report, the World Green Building Council has provided a complementary report which translates findings from the original report to the retail sector, with lessons learned and further recommendations.

This report further demonstrates that low carbon, resource efficient and environmentally friendly buildings can enhance health, well-being and productivity of building users.

Key Findings

  • Retail accounts for almost 43% of the total value of commercial property, and retail outlets are the biggest emitters of Co2 within the commercial property sector
  • Walmart developed a concept store in which only half of the store was day-lit, and found that in those day-lit areas, the sales per square foot were significantly higher
  • Different retail contexts require different light levels, typically ranging from 300 lux (e.g. shopping malls) to 1,000 lux

Further Detail

The core of the report outlines a ‘retail metrics framework’ to enable organisations to evaluate, measure and identify areas for improvement within their indoor environment. These can be measured by already recorded data, although some additional information of the indoor environment maybe required. These elements include aspects such as customer sales and footfall, employee absenteeism and staff retention, employee and customer perception of the work or retail environment and physical environmental characteristics such as lighting, temperature, sound level and indoor air quality among others.

As within the Health, Well-being and Productivity in Offices Report there are several internal environment considerations to be taken into account. These include lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort, acoustics, interior layout, look and feel, active and inclusive design, biophillia (contact with nature), location and amenities and community spaces.

The World Green Building Council identifies how daylight and biophillia are particularly influential on consumer behaviour based on previous research. A study conducted by Walmart in California analysed 75 stores and found that when those stores with poor daylight were re-fitted with skylights, profits per square foot from increased sales were twenty times the savings of the stores energy costs. In addition, research suggests customers are more likely to buy merchandise in stores with more natural surroundings around them.

Daylight levels within a building are dictated by the building form and orientation of floor plates, the amount of glazing, shape and characteristics of glazing, material finishes (that may cause reflections) and design of shading devices. A designer can positively influence the building lighting design by ensuring electric lighting has a high colour rendering index (CRI) and by ensuring day-lighting is maximised at the early stage of design, while also controlling glare. Avoiding glare is of a great importance and can be addressed by evaluating the same design considerations as daylight (mentioned above).

Temperature considerations should take into account, air temperature, mean radiant temperature (MRT) and operative temperature. Operative temperature is a simplified measure and combines air temperature and MRT.  The recommended temperature for shopping malls is between 12 and 19°C in winter and 21 and 25°C in summer. For supermarkets and small shops a temperature of between 19 and 21°C in winter and between 21 and 25°C in summer is preferred.

To read the full report, click here.

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