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Study: Green spaces good for employees

LOS ANGELES -- Is where you work making you sick?

A new study finds that employees who move from buildings with poor indoor environmental quality to more healthful "green" buildings may reap some benefits, including less absenteeism and higher productivity.

The green building movement isn't just concerned with constructing buildings that are more energy efficient and environmentally responsible -- it's supposed to improve indoor surroundings as well, making it more healthful and pleasant for those who work there.

Researchers from Michigan State University did two case studies evaluating the physical and mental health status of people who moved from traditional to green office buildings. Employees were asked through surveys about absenteeism from work for asthma, allergies, depression and stress-related conditions. They also were asked about productivity.

Absences decreased following the move into the green buildings; for example, hours absent from work due to asthma and allergies was on average 1.12 per month in conventional buildings and 0.49 in green buildings. The average number of work hours affected by illness per month also declined.