Time for Office Buildings to Go Green and Make a Commitment to Healthier Workplace Air

March 2, 2017

Recent studies have proven there is a direct correlation between workers employed in certified green buildings and increased cognitive function and workplace performance. According to a study carried out by researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment and SUNY Upstate Medical University, certified green buildings improve human health and cognitive abilities compared with similar buildings that are not certified.

Researchers tested workers for cognitive function in ten separate office buildings which were classified as high-performing buildings as defined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) under the group’s standard for low total volatile organic compound (TVOC) concentrations and acceptable ventilation and indoor air quality. Only six of the ten were certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and workers in those buildings showed improved cognitive function in a number of areas.

“There are reputable, robust studies that suggest the green design features of buildings lead to healthier, more productive occupants,” the study noted. The results demonstrated increased cognitive function in several areas such as: crisis response, applied activity level, focused activity level, and strategy. In addition, researchers tracked participants’ sleep quality with wearable monitors, finding a 6.4% improvement in workers employed within the certified buildings. A healthier experience in the workplace can translate to improved overall health and increased employee well-being.

What does this study mean for business owners and office managers in non-certified buildings? The results of this study should prompt you to make a commitment to providing your workers with healthier workplace air. The first step towards achieving better office air quality should be to test your office air and obtain a detailed report of possible contaminants. A test is the first step towards achieving cleaner office air and heading in a healthier direction towards becoming a certified green office building.

Once you have identified any potential hazards and threats it is up to you to remediate them and to invest in a better ventilation system to improve overall office air quality. Green workplaces focus on providing employees with healthy office air, thermal comfort, excellent lighting, and numerous amenities designed to promote health and well-being in the workplace. In return, employers are rewarded with increased productivity and happier and healthier employees by making improvements geared towards achieving certified green building status.