Indoor air quality

The findings of Honeywell's third annual Healthy Buildings Survey helped shed light on the impact of buildings on both occupant well-being and the planet. More than two in five (43 percent) surveyed office workers are very or extremely worried about their building's indoor air quality (IAQ), according to the report released earlier this year. The survey recently queried 2,500 office workers in buildings with 500-plus workers in Germany, India, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the United States.

While nearly three in four respondents (74 percent) express some degree of worry about their workplace's IAQ, 43 percent of those surveyed say they're very or extremely worried — a seven-point increase over last year's results. This year's survey also posed questions on sustainability, which disclosed that 38 percent of respondents feel their employer should be prioritizing both better IAQ and reducing the carbon footprint for their building, compared to 40 percent of respondents who say better IAQ should be prioritized or 22 percent of respondents who say to prioritize reducing the building's carbon footprint. Overall, a compelling 91 percent of respondents say they would sacrifice a job perk or benefit and 26 percent of those say they would sacrifice part of their salary or bonus if the funds were invested in reducing the environmental impact of their building.

"These findings show a considerable percentage of workers want a workplace that offers better indoor air quality and has less of an impact on the environment," says Manish Sharma, vice president and general manager of Sustainable Buildings, Honeywell. "Building owners, operators and organizations should take notice: occupants who are more aware of the impact a building can have on both their well-being and the environment will likely expect change. The good news is these goals are not mutually exclusive and ready now solutions exist to help make this a reality."

The report provides comparisons across the five markets, including the following highlights: 

• More than nine in 10 (93 percent) say they have higher expectations for IAQ in their workplace than they did three years ago.

• Nearly all respondents (97 percent) believe good IAQ improves their productivity, including 68 percent who say it contributes a lot. This average is tilted upward by surveyed workers in the Middle East, where 80 percent believe it contributes a lot, as well as by C-suite workers across all markets (84 percent).

• Nearly all surveyed (99 percent) agree that safe IAQ promotes at least one health-related benefit, including better overall physical health (59 percent), better overall mental health (56 percent), fewer allergic reactions such as sneezing and coughing (51 percent) and fewer airborne contaminants (46 percent).

• Most respondents (86 percent) feel their employers have responsibility for IAQ — and that limiting investment in IAQ technology shows a low commitment to employee safety and well-being.

• Surveyed workers are nearly unanimous (97 percent) in saying they would take action if their employer didn't make an effort to maintain a healthy indoor environment: 57 percent would speak with their supervisor or leadership; 36 percent would rally fellow workers and collectively raise the issue; 34 percent would ask to work remotely; and more than one in five (21 percent) would look for another job.

• While 40 percent of respondents across all markets say their employer should prioritize improving IAQ over reducing their building's carbon footprint, 22 percent want employers to prioritize the latter.

• More than nine in 10 surveyed workers (91 percent) would forego job perks if the cost were reinvested in reducing their workplace's environmental impact; 40 percent would give up building amenities such as fitness centers or lounges; 34 percent would part with state-of-the-art tech for their day-to-day work; and a third (33 percent) would give up free parking or public transit subsidies.

"It's interesting to see that surveyed workers are willing to sacrifice work perks if the costs are reinvested to help the building where they work have less of an impact on the environment," continued Sharma.

Surveyed workers' concerns about the environmental impact of their workplace may be buoyed by the emphasis organizations are placing on sustainability as detailed in the 1Q 2023 Honeywell Environmental Sustainability Index, a quarterly survey of business leaders directly involved in their organization's environmental sustainability initiatives measuring key trends pertaining to global efforts in climate change mitigation and other sustainability initiatives. Seventy-one percent of organizations surveyed in the second release of Honeywell Environmental Sustainability Index ranked sustainability as one of their top five priorities (highest percentage) and 63 percent of surveyed organizations said energy evolution and efficiency are a top priority. The Index shows organizations are increasingly taking a balanced approach to environmental solutions, embracing more technological solutions alongside process changes.

To read the full report, click here.