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Americans Seek Energy-Conscious Employers

When it comes to workplace benefits, an overwhelming percentage of US employees are looking for a different kind of green: not just the green in their paycheck, but an environmentally-friendly place to work.

According to a new poll by Mortgage Lenders Network USA (MLN), 94 percent of Americans prefer to work in a building that is designed to be energy efficient and ecologically sound.

Women appear to be more environmentally-concerned than men about their workplace. The poll also revealed that seventy-two percent of working women declare a strong preference for green employers, vs. 64 percent of men. And, a larger percentage of Americans ages 45-54 would prefer to work in an eco-friendly building vs. their less eco-minded counterparts ages 25-34 (74 percent vs. 62 percent).

E.C. is the New P.C.
Not only does America's workforce want to be more "environmentally correct," but more employers are jumping on the green bandwagon. The U.S. Green Building Council has seen its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications for newly-constructed green buildings jump in the past 3 years by 150 percent, from 167 to 417. The Council's LEED certification is the only national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

The trend toward building green comes as no surprise to Jim Smith, senior director of real estate and facilities at MLN. He is spearheading construction efforts for MLN's $75 million eco-friendly headquarters with an eye toward earning LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

MLN's new headquarters, in Wallingford, Conn., will feature an employee cafeteria with healthy offerings such as herbs and vegetables grown on the premises, and food fuel zones: employee break areas stocked with complimentary snacks such as fruit from local orchards.

Yet, Smith says their green building strategy is about more than just keeping employees happy and healthy.

"MLN is looking beyond the common benefits of green buildings -- employee retention, fewer illnesses and increased productivity - and seeking to influence employees and customers to live and build green in order to increase environmental sustainability," said Smith. "Energy independence is the first step toward financial independence. A greater reliance on sustainable resources will help pave the way."

One example of MLN's drive toward energy efficiency is The Founder's Cottage at its new headquarters. This New England-style farmhouse will feature state-of-the-art technology, allowing it to produce as much energy as it uses through solar panels and hydraulic power.

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