New study underlines benefits of ventilation

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Published: 14 September 2021


New global 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 COGfx Study series, which examines the impact of indoor air quality on how people think and feel.

Results across the COGfx studies show that, with the right strategies in place, buildings can play a significant role in improving cognitive function, health and productivity, while delivering bottom line benefits to businesses and health benefits to society.

Dave Gitlin, chairman and CEO of Carrier, said: "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.

"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."

Thestudt 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, 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 findings are applicable for all indoor environments. Carrier offers numerous products and services that optimise indoor air quality, including a suite of advanced solutions through its Healthy Buildings Program that serves key verticals including, healthcare, hospitality, education, retail and marine. Carrier's Healthy Buildings Program offers 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.

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

Primary support for the study came from Carrier Global Corporation.

The full COGfx reports are available here.