A comprehensive study measuring the impact of indoor air quality on workplace productivity found cognitive function was much higher in green buildings.
The Harvard School of Public Health study examined the links between IAQ, physical wellness, decision-making and employee productivity.
As part of the study knowledge workers including managers, architects and designers were monitored in a highly controlled environment.
For example, cognitive tests were studied alongside manipulated air quality conditions. The study also included real-world conditions in 10 buildings across the United States with variable indoor air quality.
Fresh air is such a critical component to IAQ that virtually all modern building ventilation systems are designed to constantly introduce fresh outside air into buildings.
The study found that cognitive function scores were better in green building conditions compared to the conventional building conditions across nine functional domains, including crisis response, strategy, and focused activity level.
On average, cognitive scores were: 61 per cent higher in green building conditions; 101 per cent higher in enhanced green building conditions; CO2, VOCs, and ventilation rate all had significant, independent impacts on cognitive function.
Because the study was designed to reflect indoor environments encountered by large numbers of people every day, the findings have far ranging implications for worker productivity, student learning and safety.