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DOES VENTILATION MAKE YOU SMARTER?

Thursday 15 October 2015

Can Improved Ventilation Enhance Employee Productivity?

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to enhance productivity in the workplace, while also becoming more conscious of employee wellbeing. Some companies have already put provisions in place to alleviate some work related health concerns, such as stress or bad posture, to ensure maximum productivity amongst staff. Now a study has shown that the air quality and ventilation in buildings can also have an effect on how well employees carry out their work.

The study behind the theory

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment conducted a study to examine the impact of “green” buildings compared to “non green” buildings on their occupants.

The study involved testing the cognitive function of individuals from various different industry sectors, including architects, engineers, marketing professionals and designers, while they carried out their normal day-to-day work activities. Various aspects of cognitive function were measured, including the ability to respond to a crisis, strategic ability and information usage. The participants were blind tested under simulated conditions such as:

Conventional conditions with high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – chemicals that are emitted by various elements in an office, such as paint.
Green conditions (ie, energy efficient with enhanced environmental quality) with low VOC levels
Green conditions with additional ventilation
Conditions with elevated levels of carbon dioxide

[Commercial office HVAC system]

 

The results

The results of the study have shown that the cognitive function of the participants in conditions with higher levels of ventilation were vastly superior to cognitive function of participants under any other condition, with participants under increased ventilation conditions achieving scores that were twice as high as those in conventional conditions.

Improved ventilation equals higher productivity levels

This study has therefore shown that employees would benefit from offices with increased ventilation. With improved air quality, companies would see improved cognitive function in staff and therefore improved productivity. It is therefore apparent if companies were to improve ventilation in offices, not only would their staff benefit but so would their business.

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