Workers in certified green buildings record higher cognitive functions scores, finds study

Wednesday 05th October 2016

Employees who work in certified green buildings have been found to have higher cognitive function scores, fewer sick building symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than those working in non-certified buildings, according to a new report from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The report, which is supported by United Technologies – a member of WorldGBC’s Corporate Advisory Board, and was launched today at the US Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild conference in Los Angeles, found that employees in high-performing, green-certified buildings had 26% higher cognitive function test scores than those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green certified.

The researchers studied 109 workers at 10 buildings in five cities across the US, and found that they had:

  • 73% higher crisis response scores 

  • 44% higher applied activity level scores, which reflect ability to gear decision-making toward overall goals
  • 38% higher focused activity level scores, which reflect capacity to pay attention to tasks at hand
  • 31% higher strategy scores 


In addition to these statistically significant findings, the study also found that employees reported 30 per cent fewer sick building symptoms and had 6 per cent higher sleep quality scores compared to those working in high-performing buildings that were not green-certified, indicating that benefits of green buildings may extend beyond the workday. 


John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies, said: “Certified green buildings not only deliver environmental benefits, they can have positive impacts on the productivity and thinking of the people in those buildings. That’s a powerful combination that can accelerate the green building movement globally.”

The study builds on the 2015 COGfx Study. COGfx is shorthand for your brain’s cognitive function – which found significantly higher cognitive function test scores for office workers in a simulated green building environment with enhanced ventilation compared to a conventional building environment.

The full report – The Impact of Working in a Green Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health – will be made available at www.CHGEHarvard.org/COGfxStudy and www.theCOGfxStudy.com. Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #TheCOGfxStudy.

For further information on health and wellbeing in green buildings, visit the website for our Better Places for People campaign. 

Employees who work in certified green buildings have been found to have higher cognitive function scores, fewer sick building symptoms and higher sleep quality scores than those working in non-certified buildings, according to a new report from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The report, which is supported by United Technologies – a member of WorldGBC’s Corporate Advisory Board, and was launched today at the US Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild conference in Los Angeles, found that employees in high-performing, green-certified buildings had 26% higher cognitive function test scores than those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green certified.

The researchers studied 109 workers at 10 buildings in five cities across the US, and found that they had:

  • 73% higher crisis response scores 

  • 44% higher applied activity level scores, which reflect ability to gear decision-making toward overall goals
  • 38% higher focused activity level scores, which reflect capacity to pay attention to tasks at hand
  • 31% higher strategy scores 


In addition to these statistically significant findings, the study also found that employees reported 30 per cent fewer sick building symptoms and had 6 per cent higher sleep quality scores compared to those working in high-performing buildings that were not green-certified, indicating that benefits of green buildings may extend beyond the workday. 


John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies, said: “Certified green buildings not only deliver environmental benefits, they can have positive impacts on the productivity and thinking of the people in those buildings. That’s a powerful combination that can accelerate the green building movement globally.”

The study builds on the 2015 COGfx Study. COGfx is shorthand for your brain’s cognitive function – which found significantly higher cognitive function test scores for office workers in a simulated green building environment with enhanced ventilation compared to a conventional building environment.

The full report – The Impact of Working in a Green Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health – will be made available at www.CHGEHarvard.org/COGfxStudy and www.theCOGfxStudy.com. Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #TheCOGfxStudy.

For further information on health and wellbeing in green buildings, visit the website for our Better Places for People campaign.