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Study Links Green Buildings to Higher Cognitive Function

Buildings have a powerful influence on health because we humans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors.  Recently, researchers from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment worked with leading academic institutions to study how green buildings affect health and cognitive function. The study, funded by United Technologies, was designed to simulate indoor environmental quality conditions in both green and conventional buildings to assess the impacts on human health and cognitive function.

Twenty-four people participated in the study. Over the course of six full workdays, the group was exposed to three different types of environmentally controlled indoor air quality. These replicated air quality and ventilation conditions in a conventional office building, a green office building, and a green office building with enhanced ventilation.  At the end of each day, participants took a cognitive test – using the well-vetted Strategic Management Software Executive Decision tool – to measure decision-making performance.

Results of the study showed that the occupants had higher cognitive function scores and reported fewer health symptoms when in the green and green+ building environments compared to the conventional building environment.  On the green building environment days they, scored 61% higher; on the green+ environment days, 101% better.

The implications of this study are significant.  We can improve worker productivity and safety, student learning, and patient healing by implementing better indoor air quality and ventilation.