The Challenge: Improving Organizational Productivity through the Built Environment

Organizational productivity is the efficiency with which an organization operates, reflecting a balance between input costs and output values. Productivity improves when costs are reduced or when outputs increase in value.

Organizations spend approximately 10 times more for the staff who do the work than for the buildings they work in. Making the right choice of environmental conditions can benefit an organization if it supports the employees, and can provide a double benefit if it also saves energy. Conversely, building conditions (even energy-saving ones) that create discomfort or add barriers to effective work can be costly for both the building operators and tenants.

National Research  Council (NRC) has studied the relationship between work environments and organizational  productivity for over 15 years, leading to clear evidence that organizations, their employees and the environment itself can all benefit when the right choices are made. These studies include experiments at our facilities in Ottawa, in which we have tested the effects of lighting, ventilation, acoustics and controls technologies on task performance,  work engagement,  comfort, satisfaction, and well-being. These have been complemented by field studies that have included visits to over 40 buildings across Canada and the northern United States and have included surveys, both online and in person, of over 4000 individual  employees.

Proposed Research – Demonstrating the Value of High-Performance Buildings

In the approach described in this document, NRC and Association for Smarter Homes & Buildings (ASHB) members  are poised to undertake a structured initiative to demonstrate that smart, integrated technologies  produce organizational productivity gains in addition to energy and environmental savings. The result will transform the high-performance  buildings industry by establishing the built environment  as a strategic tool for organizations to achieve their goals.

The project will demonstrate that the identified productivity gains are related to improved indoor environment conditions and that their value is equivalent to other corporate programs. This evidence will accentuate the importance and speed the adoption of these solutions in the high-performance  building industry.

This work will build upon the approach described in the 2014 white paper for ASHB and in the World Green Building Council report “Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices.” Using a balanced scorecard of meaningful metrics, we will demonstrate the value equivalents of technology investments in the built environment  in three stages:

Phase 1 synthesized existing data to enable decision-makers to benchmark  their buildings against others on multiple organizational productivity metrics. Partners will receive guidance  concerning how to use this information to make strategic building decisions for their organizations  for the benefit of the organization and its employees.  You can download Phase 1 documents here:

Download the full Phase 1 report

Phase 1 Project Webinar Recording

Phase 1 Webinar Presentation

Phase 2 will refine the framework from Phase 1 using partner-supplied data to increase the accuracy. Below is the Phase 2 Prospectus.


Data Collection Information


Access to full, completed research is only available to participating funding organizations. The image above shows the logos of the current participating sponsors, all ASHB members.

Funders of the project  may participate at one of the levels below, and will receive the benefits through ASHB and NRC associated with the level of contribution.

Bronze Funder ($5K)
• Name and logo will be placed on the front page of the research report, slide deck, media releases, and marketing material.
• Opportunity to participate in the final webinar with all the funders which will highlight the findings of the research in detail.
• Ability to ask the questions to the research analysts.
• Final report, executive summary, presentations.

Silver Funder ($10K): 
• All benefits of the Bronze Funder.
• Will have a one (1) hour webinar specifically for their organization and hosted by the National Research Council (NRC).  Anyone from the organization may attend to receive an overview of the research findings.
• Will be on the Steering Committee and allowed to: define the research scope and methodology, provide feedback and input regarding the direction of the study, and participate in Steering Committee webinars.

Gold Funder ($15K+):
• All benefits of the Silver Funder.
• Additional custom benefits package established on a case-by-case basis. This could include a case study incorporated within the research to highlight the work their organization has been doing in the area.  This case study will be completed by the National Research Council (NRC) as a side project and additional costs may be involved; the cost will depend on the complexity of the proposed case study.


ASHB seeks partners to conduct this important work.  For more information on this opportunity, please contact Greg Walker, ASHB Research Director.
Greg Walker
ASHB Research Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 613.686.1814 x227