How office environments impact productivity and health

A study that will examine how the indoor environments of 100 office buildings around the world impact employee productivity and health has been launched by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University, with backing from United Technologies and JLL.

The study will assess employees’ cognitive function performance using a ‘ForHealth’ kit – placing an environmental sensor at each worker’s desk and a wrist monitor to capture feedback on their sleep and physical activity. The sensors connect to a custom-built ForHealth app, that integrates data from the sensors and is used to administer tests.

The new research builds on 2015’s COGfx studies, which revealed the impact of green buildings (including LED lighting) on human performance, showing how cognitive function scores improved significantly among employees in green building environments. The first COGfx study set the methodology and found a doubling of cognitive test scores when participants worked in a setting optimised for indoor environmental quality, like those found in green buildings, while the second study connected green building with occupants’ health and productivity in ten real US office buildings. It found a 26 per cent improvement in cognitive test scores for those working in certified green buildings.

Terri Wills, CEO of WorldGBC (the World Green Building Council), said: “We know that green office buildings improve health, wellbeing and productivity thanks to groundbreaking academic research and data from leading businesses which are measuring the way buildings positively affect their staff.

“This new global study will build upon existing research by demonstrating that relationship on a global scale, further strengthening the case for action. We’re eager to see the results.

Initial findings from the first set of buildings are expected in 2018.


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