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 environment in state government facilities
A building doesn’t have to be green or LEED certified for occupants to enjoy a healthy, productive environment. People who work in government facilities, for example, can benefit from a variety of actions that contribute to clean air.
Removing anything that blocks air vents and grilles, complying with smoking policies and properly watering and maintaining office plants are just a few ways to help. It’s also smart to remind occupants to dispose of garbage promptly and properly, store food correctly and avoid bringing products into the building that could release harmful or bothersome odors or contaminants. Additionally, encourage occupants to notify the building or facility manager if they suspect an indoor air quality (IAQ) problem.
Controlling IAQ requires the integration of three strategies. First, remove or isolate pollutants using physical barriers, air pressure relationships, or by limiting their use. Second, dilute pollutants and remove them from the building via ventilation. Finally, clean pollutants using filtration.
Like IAQ, temperature and lighting impact the comfort and productivity of building occupants. A building automation system offers the ultimate in temperature control, automatically adjusting temperature and lighting to match building occupancy, while improving energy efficiency. Additionally, changing to LED lights improves efficiency as much as 80 percent, when compared to traditional fluorescent and incandescent lighting, converting 95 percent of their energy into light and just 5 percent as wasted heat.
To read more about the Harvard study, click here.