Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time inside, making indoor air quality and lighting critical to their health, comfort and productivity. A study led by Piers MacNaughton from Harvard University supports this claim, reporting that green-certified buildings can improve occupant health and cognitive function.
MacNaughton’s team looked at 10 high-performing buildings in five cities across the US, and found occupants in green certified environments scored 26 percent higher on cognitive function tests. The same occupants experienced 30 percent fewer symptoms of sick building syndrome and recorded 6 percent higher sleep quality scores than those in non-green certified buildings.
The study supports the idea that air quality, lighting and temperature control should be a top priority when designing, constructing and maintaining healthy buildings.
This is exactly what Johnson Controls did when it constructed and expanded four high-performance buildings at its corporate campus in Glendale, Wisconsin. The buildings incorporate technologies that minimize their environmental impact while supporting productivity. This means installing geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic energy, under-floor heating and cooling, safety management, skylights and bigger windows to increase the amount of natural light. The company has also led a wide range of green building projects that incorporate similar technologies, from schools and universities to hospitals and sports stadiums, all with a focus on the health of both the building and its occupants.
Tips to improve the higher ed environment
You don’t have to be green or LEED certified to have a healthy and efficient campus environment. Private universities and colleges looking to improve campus health while boosting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have options beyond equipment repair and replacement.
Energy storage is one option. Cold water thermal energy storage cools water at night, during off-peak hours, stores it in a large water tank and feeds it to chillers during the day, when energy prices are highest. Similarly, battery storage systems draw energy during the night, store it and use it during the day to power mechanical equipment, avoiding peak demand energy pricing.
A second energy-saving option—heat recovery—captures the heat chiller’s exhaust and redirects it for various heating applications, saving energy while maintaining comfort.
Another technology—predictive optimization—enables facility managers to anticipate campus energy needs. Predictive control software optimizes cost and energy use based on weather forecasts and future grid electricity prices. The software also predicts hourly campus heating and cooling needs and determines how to run equipment to meet those needs, providing reliable and consistent comfort for the entire campus.
In addition to creating healthier learning environments and saving energy, incorporating these tips and technologies can attract and retain a growing number of students who value sustainability while protecting the integrity of institutions that espouse green practices.
To read more about the Harvard study, click here.
Russell joined Johnson Controls in September 2007 as an account representative for the Sacramento service branch. In his current role, he is responsible for growing the higher education market for SSNA. Russ earned his MBA, BA, and is a doctoral candidate at Brandman University.