Harvard University scientists recently published an article in the journal Building and Environment summarizing 30 years of public health research demonstrating that improved indoor environmental quality directly results in better health outcomes. “The Impact of Working in a Green-Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health” by MacNaughton, Satish, Laurent, Flanigan, Vallarino, Coull, Spengler, and Allen, Building and Environment 114 (2017) 178-186
One recent research project utilized 109 participants from 10 buildings in 5 different US cities that met ASHRAE Standard 62.1 (2010) ventilation requirements and had low indoor total volatile organic compound concentrations. In each city, buildings were matched over time by tenant, type of worker, and work functions. Buildings were distinguished concerning whether they had achieved green certification. Workers were administered a cognitive function test of higher order decision-making performance twice during the same week while indoor environmental quality parameters were monitored. Workers in green-certified buildings scored 26% higher on cognitive function tests, controlling for annual earnings, job category and level of schooling, and had 30% fewer sick building symptoms than those workers in non-certified buildings.
These outcomes may be explained by a number of indoor environmental quality factors which certified green buildings must meet, such as temperature control and lighting. However, the findings suggest that the benefits of green certification standards go beyond measurable environmental quality factors. The researchers have given the name “buildingomics” to describe the holistic approach for examining the complexity of factors in a building that influence human health. They believe further research will identify how these different factors lead to positive cognitive and health results.
In response to this growing trend, the USGBC has recently developed and issued new building standards to maximize indoor environmental quality known as WELL. The first buildings are being evaluated for whether they meet WELL standards and the first practitioners are studying for and becoming accredited as WELL professionals. See: https://www.wellcertified.com/
CCES is growing our expertise about WELL, as well, and can provide for you information about the standards and be able to provide insight and perform a study to demonstrate whether your existing or planned building meets WELL standards and, if not, what can be done to meet the WELL certification standards, including estimated costs to achieve WELL, and to maximize the health and financial benefits of WELL certification. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.