Green Offices Boost Your Brainpower!

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Written by: Kirsten Cowart

If you work in an office that is well-ventilated and has below-average levels of pollutants and carbon dioxide, you will have significantly higher cognitive functioning; you will be on top of your game when it comes to responding to a crisis and coming up with strategies if you work in a healthy green office, according to a study from Harvard.

Going “Green” In The Office

A new creative study about how well people perform on various cognitive-functioning tests found that there is a big difference in people who work in a “green” vs “non-green” office. According to that study, working indoors does have a negative effect on your cognitive function, but if you can improve the air quality around you, then you can have a much easier time thinking.  

According to the new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives:

“We have been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Professor Joseph Allen, “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”

Working In Non-Green Environments Increase Chances Of Sickness

The researchers wanted to find out how chemicals, carbon dioxide and ventilation affects your ability to function indoors. When you are indoors all day in a building that isn’t ‘green,’ you are much more likely to get sick.  

Back in the 1980s, we started to learn about the importance of ventilation when “sick building syndrome” would spread disease like wildfire. Once one person got sick, it would remain in the building and slowly infect worker after worker. Since then, we have worked harder to prevent sick days by creating “green” office buildings.

Results Of The Cognitive Tests

What researchers found in their studying was that people who worked in the “green offices” scored 61% higher on the cognitive tests than those who were not in a green environment.  

The cognitive tests looked at many different areas, but the three areas that made the biggest differences in score were:

  • Crisis response (97% higher scores in green conditions and 131% higher in green+)
  • Strategy (183% and 288% higher)
  • Information usage (172% and 299% higher)

CO2 Is A Particular Area Of Concern

CO2 isn’t typically considered an indoor pollutant and so it hasn’t really been studied until now. When the researchers looked at the effect of higher levels of CO2 on people, 7 out of 10 cognitive scores decreased.

According to professor Usha Satish from SUNY Upstate Medical University, “The major significance of this finding lies in the fact that these are the critical decision-making parameters that are linked to optimal and productive functioning. Losing components of these skills impacts how people handle their day to day lives.”

Do you work in a green environment? Let us know your experiences in the comments below and see what you can do to make your own environment more green!  

Sources– Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Green office environments linked with higher cognitive function scores.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151026171409.htm>.

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Kirsten Campbell
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Kirsten Campbell

Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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