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Creating a green office is more then just aesthetic…

In the past decade we have witnessed a number of changes to office environments with the goal to improve team dynamics and staff efficacy. Putting other benefits aside, a combined study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Centre for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University shows strong evidence to suggest that greening your office environment not only makes the place look better but also improves your teams’ productivity and boost thinking capacity…

The researchers went out to compare how green office environments compared to non-green environments affected a workers thinking and cognitive abilities. The process of the study looked specifically at the impact of ventilation, chemicals and carbon dioxide on thinking capabilities. To measure the differences a double blind study was created using 24 participants recruited from architects, designers, programmers, engineers, creative marketing professionals and mangers to work in a controlled office environment.

For a period of six-days research participants were asked to perform normal work duties while the research team varied the simulated building conditions. Conditions varied from the lowest being an environment with artificially elevated levels of carbon dioxide to “normal” office conditions with relatively high concentrations of volatile organics compounds (VOC’s) to more “green” conditions which had low VOC levels; with the optimum condition being dubbed “green+” which had enhanced ventilation of ‘clean’ air.

Upon completing the day each subject was asked to undertake a series of test that measured their cognitive function. The results speak for themselves… at the end of a day working in a “green+” environment on average participants scored twice as food as in working in a “normal” environment.

When the measures where broken down in benchmark comparison from “normal” working environment it was found participants scored on average:

  • In terms of crisis response participants scored 97% higher for “green” conditions and 131% higher for “green+” environment.

  • In terms of strategy participants scored 183% higher for “green” environment conditions and 288% higher for “green+” conditions.

  • While in terms of information usage participants scored 172% higher for “green” conditions and 299% higher for “green+” conditions.

Furthermore it found that for seven of the nine cognitive functions tested average scored decreased as levels of carbon dioxide or CO2 approached what is normal in non-green office buildings.

So if nothing else its worth keeping the plant guy coming once a week to your office!

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, October 26 2015

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