Global study on how offices impact employee productivity & health, launched by Harvard University with backing from UTC and JLL

Tuesday 07th November 2017

 

A study that will examine how the indoor environments of 100 office buildings around the world impact employee productivity and health has been launched by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University, with backing from WorldGBC Corporate Advisory Board members United Technologies and JLL.

The study will assess employees’ cognitive function performance using a ‘ForHealth’ kit – placing an environmental sensor at each worker’s desk and a wrist monitor to capture feedback on their sleep and physical activity. The sensors connect to a custom-built ‘ForHealth’ app, that integrates data from the sensors and is used to administer tests.

The new research builds on the COGfx studies, which revealed the impact of green buildings on human performance, showing how cognitive function scores improved significantly among employees in green building environments. The first COGfx study set the methodology and found a doubling of cognitive test scores when participants worked in a setting optimised for indoor environmental quality, like those found in green buildings, while the second study connected green building with occupants’ health and productivity in ten real US office buildings. It found a 26 per cent improvement in cognitive test scores for those working in certified green buildings.

This third, three-year long study aims to better understand specific building-level factors that deliver improved thinking, productivity and health in building occupants around the world.

It was launched at the Greenbuild conference in Boston, US, where WorldGBC Chairman Tai Lee Siang joined representatives from Green Building Councils in Australia, Brazil, Singapore and the US, as well as Harvard University, United Technologies and JLL.

Terri Wills, CEO of WorldGBC, said: “We know that green office buildings improve health, wellbeing and productivity thanks to groundbreaking academic research and data from leading businesses which are measuring the way buildings positively affect their staff.

"This new global study will build upon existing research by demonstrating that relationship on a global scale, further strengthening the case for action. We’re eager to see the results.”

John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies, which is providing primary support for the study, said: “United Technologies is working to accelerate the green building movement around the world. We are engaged in an entirely new conversation on the value of green building because of this groundbreaking research,”

“With an expanded value proposition that now includes productivity along with energy and water savings, we hope more building investors, owners and tenants will choose green building. The research demonstrates that green building is not only good for the environment but also for people – that is a powerful combination.”

Harvard University is also engaging with JLL, which has previously contributed to WorldGBC’s Better Places for People project and is a leading voice on health, wellbeing and productivity in green buildings.

Bob Best, Executive Vice President at JLL, said: “The ‘human experience’ is becoming the driving force in how workplaces are designed, built and managed. At JLL we are turning our approach to building management inside-out. It’s not how people fit into the buildings we manage; it’s how we manage the buildings to fit the needs of the people inside. The future of work is here and this research is key to our new strategy.”

Initial findings from the first set of buildings are expected in 2018.

Find out more about WorldGBC’s work on health and wellbeing in green buildings here.

 

A study that will examine how the indoor environments of 100 office buildings around the world impact employee productivity and health has been launched by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University, with backing from WorldGBC Corporate Advisory Board members United Technologies and JLL.

The study will assess employees’ cognitive function performance using a ‘ForHealth’ kit – placing an environmental sensor at each worker’s desk and a wrist monitor to capture feedback on their sleep and physical activity. The sensors connect to a custom-built ‘ForHealth’ app, that integrates data from the sensors and is used to administer tests.

The new research builds on the COGfx studies, which revealed the impact of green buildings on human performance, showing how cognitive function scores improved significantly among employees in green building environments. The first COGfx study set the methodology and found a doubling of cognitive test scores when participants worked in a setting optimised for indoor environmental quality, like those found in green buildings, while the second study connected green building with occupants’ health and productivity in ten real US office buildings. It found a 26 per cent improvement in cognitive test scores for those working in certified green buildings.

This third, three-year long study aims to better understand specific building-level factors that deliver improved thinking, productivity and health in building occupants around the world.

It was launched at the Greenbuild conference in Boston, US, where WorldGBC Chairman Tai Lee Siang joined representatives from Green Building Councils in Australia, Brazil, Singapore and the US, as well as Harvard University, United Technologies and JLL.

Terri Wills, CEO of WorldGBC, said: “We know that green office buildings improve health, wellbeing and productivity thanks to groundbreaking academic research and data from leading businesses which are measuring the way buildings positively affect their staff.

"This new global study will build upon existing research by demonstrating that relationship on a global scale, further strengthening the case for action. We’re eager to see the results.”

John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies, which is providing primary support for the study, said: “United Technologies is working to accelerate the green building movement around the world. We are engaged in an entirely new conversation on the value of green building because of this groundbreaking research,”

“With an expanded value proposition that now includes productivity along with energy and water savings, we hope more building investors, owners and tenants will choose green building. The research demonstrates that green building is not only good for the environment but also for people – that is a powerful combination.”

Harvard University is also engaging with JLL, which has previously contributed to WorldGBC’s Better Places for People project and is a leading voice on health, wellbeing and productivity in green buildings.

Bob Best, Executive Vice President at JLL, said: “The ‘human experience’ is becoming the driving force in how workplaces are designed, built and managed. At JLL we are turning our approach to building management inside-out. It’s not how people fit into the buildings we manage; it’s how we manage the buildings to fit the needs of the people inside. The future of work is here and this research is key to our new strategy.”

Initial findings from the first set of buildings are expected in 2018.

Find out more about WorldGBC’s work on health and wellbeing in green buildings here.