New Harvard Study Finds Better Thinking and Better Health in Green-Certified Buildings

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New Harvard Study Finds Better Thinking and Better Health in Green-Certified Buildings

Employees who work in certified green buildings have been found to have higher cognitive function scores, fewer sick building symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than those working in non-certified buildings, according to a new report from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The report, The Impact of Working in a Green Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health, which is supported by United Technologies, was launched yesterday at the US Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild conference in Los Angeles. It shows that employees in high-performing, green-certified buildings had 26% higher cognitive function test scores than those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green certified.

The researchers studied 109 workers at 10 buildings in 5 cities across the US, and found that those working in green-certified buildings had:

  • 73% higher crisis response scores 

  • 44% higher applied activity level scores, which reflect ability to gear decision-making toward overall goals
  • 38% higher focused activity level scores, which reflect capacity to pay attention to tasks at hand
  • 31% higher strategy scores

In addition to these statistically significant findings, the study also found that employees reported 30 per cent fewer sick building symptoms and had 6 per cent higher sleep quality scores compared to those working in high-performing buildings that were not green-certified, indicating that benefits of green buildings may extend beyond the workday. 


John Alker, Campaign and Policy Director at UK-GBC, said:

"This report is a wakeup call for anyone involved in the procurement or provision of buildings, whether for living, learning or working. Major employers in particular should take note - do you know what impact your own workplace has on your own workforce?

"Not only does this report emphasise that a building's design impacts the health and wellbeing of the people using it, it supports the business case for pursuing a green building, which can help deliver those productivity outcomes. Better for people, better for the planet - and better for the bottom line."

For further information on health and wellbeing in green buildings, visit the website for the Better Places for People campaign.

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