Special Reports

Harvard Study: Green-Certified Buildings Contribute To Better Sleep, Work and Health


A new Harvard study has found how the design, maintenance and operation of the buildings where we spend most of our time influence the quality of our sleep, work and health.

The study by the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) and SUNY Upstate Medical has shown how high-performing, green-certified buildings can enhance the decision-making skills of an employee, Harvard Gazette reported.

The research involved 10 performing buildings in five cities in the United States, and Harvard's double LEED Platinum Blackstone South building is included. Together with Office for Sustainability (OFS) and Harvard Real Estate, the team studied the relationship between the productivity and wellbeing of the occupants and the building conditions.

The results have shown that the participants who are staying in high-performing, green-certified office environments had scores which are 26 percent higher in terms of cognitive function tests. They were also seen with 30 percent fewer symptoms of sick building syndrome and had better quality sleep by 6 percent than those in noncertified buildings.

Aside from these benefits from being in a better building, there were other factors discovered which influenced the participants' cognitive function scores. The buildings used in the study were more frequently within the thermal comfort zone defined by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) organization. The daylighting also in green-certified buildings is linked to achieving better quality sleep at night which improves brain performance on the following day.

This study is similar to the one conducted in 2010 and published in the American Journal of Public Health, which also states that green buildings have a positive impact on the health of the occupants. The participants involved in the study were seen to be more productive, have reduced likelihood for depression, asthma, respiratory allergies, and stress-related ailments, according to Renewable NRG Systems.

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