Researchers are taking a variety of approaches to answer that question. Much of the research involves the effects of air quality, daylighting and artificial lighting.
1. Given that people spend on average more than 90% of their time in buildings, their impact on well-being and health must be wide ranging. In terms of workplaces, a number of studies have connected dots between productivity and IEQ.
2. LED lamps offer countless possibilities for altering the color and quality of light, including the ability to mimic changing natural light throughout the day. Lighting that is shifted toward the blue spectrum appears to suppress the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.
3. Researchers studied workers’ cognitive function in the same workspace under three conditions of ventilation rate, outside air makeup and CO2. On average, the workers’ cognitive function scores were 61% higher in the greenest IAQ conditions compared to those of conventional conditions assumed to represent the upper end of typical U.S. buildings.
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, “Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers”
Walking boosts creativity by 60% over sitting, according to a Stanford University study. But the research discovered no measurable effect on focused thinking.
Workers with access to sunlight are 18% more productive, says the World Green Building Council.
The average American spends 7.7 hours each day sitting, which has been linked to muscular degeneration, disorders of the back, neck and leg, and some types of cancer.
The Harvard Business Review reported on data showing that when salespeople interact 10% more with coworkers from other teams, their sales grow by 10%.
According to a study cited by the World Green Building Council (WGBC), a CO2 level of 1,000 ppm has a detrimental impact (11–22%) on decision-making tasks compared to CO2 at 600 ppm. WGBC also quotes research showing that occupant performance is reduced by 4% at cool temperatures and 6% at warm temperatures.