The researchers looked at people’s experiences in “green” vs. “non-green” buildings in a double-blind study, in which both the participants and the analysts were blinded to test conditions to avoid biased results. The findings suggest that the indoor environments in which many people work daily could be adversely affecting cognitive function—and that, conversely, improved air quality could greatly increase the cognitive function performance of workers.
The research by he Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University found that cognitive performance scores for the participants who worked in the green+ environments were, on average, double those of participants who worked in conventional environments; scores for those working in green environments were 61% higher. Measuring nine cognitive function domains, researchers found that the largest improvements occurred in the areas of:
- crisis response (97% higher scores in green conditions and 131% higher in green+)
- strategy (183% and 288% higher)
- information usage (172% and 299% higher)
“We have been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and lead author of the study. “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”
Results from a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University. Find more information in the article (link here).