Improving Indoor Air Quality Can Lead to Improved Productivity

  February 2, 2015

Decreasing indoor air pollution, either by removing sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or by increasing ventilation rates, has been shown to increase occupant work performance, according to findings compiled by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Most of the studies examined by LBNL took place in a lab setting, with test subjects doing office work-type activities, such as typing or doing simple math. Work performance in these studies was measured by speed and accuracy in completing the tasks. Different sources of VOCs were used in the studies. One used an old piece of carpet. Another, old PCs. When the source of the VOCs, which had been hidden in the room so the test subjects were not aware of it, was removed there was a slight increase in performance, and in one case typing errors decreased by 16 percent, LBNL reports.

Another study, focusing on ventilation rates, used a call center as its test facility. Changes in the HVAC parameters were unknown to the occupants. When outdoor air ventilation rates were roughly 50 cfm per person and a new particle filter was used, average time per call dropped by 10 percent. The improvement in work performance did not occur, however, if a new filter was used but the outdoor air ventilation rate was roughly 5 cfm per person, according to LBNL.

Read LBNL's findings at their Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank here.


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