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Harvard study: Healthy buildings critical to public health strategy

Sept. 10, 2021
The latest issue of a Harvard study primarily supported by Carrier Global Corporation substantiates prior findings that improved indoor air quality leads to enhanced cognitive function and health of building occupants.

For the first time on a global scale, new research has found that healthy buildings with enhanced ventilation can improve the cognitive function and health of occupants, suggesting that ventilation and filtration are preeminent healthy building strategies.

The study, COGfx Study 3: Global Buildings, was led by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as part of the renowned COGfx Study series, which examines the impact of indoor air quality on how people think and feel.

Primary support for the study came from Carrier Global Corporation (NYSE: CARR). Carrier notes this latest study bolsters the prior studies' lab and U.S. findings, and further supports the notion that indoor air quality is not only good for people's health and safety, it's good for the bottom line – through increased productivity, fewer sick days and better cognitive function.

COGfx Study 3: Global Buildings

The COGfx Study 3: Global Buildings research examined the impact of indoor air quality on the cognitive function of office workers across six countries - China, India, Mexico, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The research found that cognitive function declines as the levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon dioxide (CO2) increase. Higher CO2 can be an indicator of poor ventilation in buildings.

Importantly, the study notes that mechanical ventilation, such as an HVAC system with efficient filtration, can help to protect building occupants from the negative cognitive effects of PM2.5 and CO2.

In addition to acute impacts on cognitive function, reducing exposure to PM2.5 is associated with many other health benefits including reductions in cardiovascular disease, asthma attacks, and premature death.

While the research focused on office employees in commercial buildings, the takeaways are applicable for all indoor environments.

"As more people move toward returning to offices, schools and recreational activities, the health, safety and intelligence of indoor environments have come into greater focus," said Dave Gitlin, chairman and CEO of Carrier.

Gitlin added, "The COGfx Study continues to demonstrate that proper ventilation and filtration of indoor environments plays an important role across the globe in fostering a proactive health strategy. At Carrier, we are focused on delivering innovative solutions and services that positively impact the health, productivity and cognitive performance of occupants of all buildings."

Carrier's Healthy Buildings Program

Carrier offers numerous products and services that optimize indoor air quality, including a suite of advanced solutions through Carrier's Healthy Buildings Program that serves key verticals including, healthcare, hospitality, education, retail and marine.

Carrier's Healthy Buildings Program offers technology innovations including:

  • Abound – A digital, cloud-native platform that aggregates data from different systems and sensors and provides transparency into insights about air quality, thermal comfort, and other performance data.
  • OptiClean™ Dual-Mode Air Scrubber & Negative Air Machine – A portable negative air machine, which cleans and removes air potentially contaminated by the coronavirus.
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Assessments – A selection of IAQ assessments to identify healthy building strategies that can be applied to buildings now and ensure solutions are effective long into the future.

COGfx study finds healthier buildings = healthier people

Carrier notes that the latest research builds on previous COGfx studies that demonstrated better thinking and better health can be found inside healthier buildings.

The first 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.

The COGfx Study 2 examined real-world building environments in the U.S. and showed that employees in green-certified buildings showed 26% higher cognitive function test scores and 30% fewer sick building symptoms versus buildings that were not green-certified.

The COGfx Study 3 can be found at www.theCOGfxStudy.com

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