Join the conversation about the study online using the hashtag #TheCOGfxStudy and learn more below.
As part of its ongoing research in this area, the study team is now working to define the building factors that influence productivity and health. The team is compiling the evidence on these factors and summarizing it to identify solutions for building practitioners.
The first study, The COGfx IEQ Study, found cognitive function test scores doubled when study participants were in simulated green building environments with enhanced ventilation as opposed to conventional building environments.
For the second study, The COGfx Buildingomics Study, the team wanted to build on those results by examining real-world building environments to determine whether the green certification of already high-performing buildings would result in higher cognitive function scores and health benefits for occupants.
These results build on the first study’s findings, showing that even in buildings that have high ventilation rates and low CO2 and volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations (the parameters that impacted cognitive function scores in the first study), there are additional benefits to the attributes of green certification.
Who wouldn’t want measurable, positive impacts on thinking and sleep quality simply from the building in which they work?
These types of buildings were not studied, so they do not directly apply. However, the case can be made that the findings can be generalized to other high-performing spaces.
This suggests that there may be an even greater benefit – and return on investment – to pursuing green building certification than originally thought. The extra steps taken to obtain certification do more than reduce energy consumption or support sustainability goals, they have a measurable, positive impact on the thinking and health of those who occupy the building. Better buildings that result in better thinking and health can help enhance employees’ performance and well-being; serve as recruiting tools for business HR managers; and provide a differentiator, perhaps even a competitive advantage, for building owners.
The higher cognitive function and sleep scores in high-performing, green-certified buildings were partially explained by differences in thermal comfort and lighting, but the findings suggest the benefits of green certification standards go beyond measurable IEQ factors. The study team recommends a holistic, Buildingomics approach to best study the drivers of human health and performance in buildings.
There are a variety of IEQ credits available through green building certification organizations that can help achieve improved indoor environments. The study team reviewed several of the leading international green building standards – LEED® New Construction 2009, Green Star Office v3, BREEAM® New Construction 2012, BCA Green Mark for new non-residential buildings v4.1 2013 and DGNB New Office v2012 – and found that all of them have credits for thermal comfort, indoor air quality (IAQ) and lighting. These factors have been associated with cognitive function scores in the COGfx studies.