New research provides more evidence to support the argument that green office environments are conducive to higher cognitive function when it comes to strategy development and responding to a crisis.

The American study was carried out by the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University. It involved testing the cognitive capacity and decision-making performance of a group of participants after they had worked in both ‘green’ and ‘non-green’ buildings. The ‘green’ environments simulated in the test constituted “well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide”. Results showed that, on average, cognitive performance was 61% better after working in these ‘green’ environments, than after working in the conventional workplace where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were much more prevalent and there was minimal ventilation.

These results support our longstanding belief that the quality of indoor environments, in which we spend approximately 90% of our time, can significantly impact humans’ overall health and wellbeing. Considering the amount of time we spend indoors, it is imperative that this study, and others like it, are acknowledged, and the findings incorporated, into the design and development of new buildings and public spaces.

For existing spaces with poor ventilation and not undergoing re-design, a simple and highly effective method for lowering indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide is via the introduction of plants or what we like to call living infrastructure. Plants have the ability to filter particulate matter from the air, making it cleaner and healthier for everyone, as well as enhancing the overall aesthetic of the working environment.