Most of us associate air pollution with smoke billowing over our cities yet new EPA research has indicated that indoor air pollutants are 2-5 times greater than outdoor levels. Why is this?
The dramatic increase in the cost of energy during the 1970s and dependence on foreign oil made energy efficiency important, meaning airtight designs became a building priority. However, this decreased ventilation increased the concentration of indoor pollutants, giving rise to a host of medical problems including sick building syndrome.
Now a Green rating system exists to assess the energy efficiency and environmental footprint of buildings, as well as ventilation, filtration, material emissions, indoor pollutants, thermal and lighting conditions, and availability of daylight views. Green buildings consistently demonstrate lower concentrations of particles, nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and allergens compared to conventional structures. The benefits of having green buildings are vast, studies have consistently documented better sleep quality, fewer health complaints, higher cognitive function and improved productivity in green homes, schools and office environments.
After a study carried out by investigators from Harvard, SUNY and Syracuse University it was found that on average, cognitive scores were 61% higher when working in Green spaces with people in the most ventilated spaces seeing cognitive function increase by 101%.
It is clear that exposure to CO2 and VOCs at levels found in typical offices dramatically compromise the ability to think clearly.
This article originally appeared on Huffington Post, 25/08/2017: