Harvard research shows that green buildings improve productivity

New research indicating that green buildings can dramatically increase the productivity of office workers is poised to have a profound impact upon attitudes in the property marketplace.

Harvard University has published new scientific research that examines the benefits of green building for how people think and perform. Their COGfx study has analysed the impacts of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on the way people think.

The analysis shows is that when people work in an optimised green building setting, cognitive scores across nine domains doubled, going up 101%.

It is the first time the cognitive test has been used in a controlled environment that studies the impact of CO2 and VOC levels.

Using a recognised online cognitive test, office workers performed their regular office duties and demonstrated the highly positive impact of indoor air quality upon cognitive function in office environments. The scores were even higher with cognitive tests related to crisis response (increase of 131 %), for strategic decisions making (increase if 288 %), and for information usage (up by 299%).

The researchers conclude that CO2 was previously thought to be benign at levels commonly found in offices but the study shows that at such levels CO2 does degrade cognitive performance. By managing CO2 and reducing it by even small levels, there can be a boost in cognitive performance that leads to a boost in productivity.

The conclusions of the research could have a transformative impact upon market attitudes towards green building, and the benefits they bring to office properties in particular. Because the economic benefits brought about by heightened productivity greatly surpass than those created to energy savings such finding could engender a shift in from energy savings to improved worker productivity as the primary focal point when it comes to the economic benefits brought by green building.

In the true cost of operating a building, energy is just 1% while 90% consists of the salaries and benefits of the people in the building.

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March 31, 2016
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