The potential to reduce energy consumption in existing and new commercial buildings is enormous. On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted..” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
It is becoming well-known to owners and managers of commercial real estate that there’s a significant opportunity to reduce the cost and use of energy through adoption of green technology in new construction and older building renovations.
While saving energy is important, the less tangible benefits of green buildings are often more significant. One of particular interest is occupant performance as measured by Cognitive Function.
Cognitive function is a term used to describe human performance through the analysis of our ability to remember, perceive, reason and think. A study highlighted in the Washington Post compared the cognitive function of two groups of people. The first group worked in the conventional work environment while the second group worked in a “green” environment.
The level of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and air exchanges were manipulated and measured in the respective environments and then mental testing was done on the inhabitants of those spaces. The outcome won’t surprise anyone who’s had a hard time keeping their eyes open while working at a desk in a poorly ventilated space. If the air you breathe is clean and replenished regularly your cognitive skills are greatly improved over those who breathe stale air polluted with high levels of CO2 and VOC’s!
“On average, cognitive scores were 61% higher on the Green building day and 101% higher on the two Green+ building days..” National Institute of Health Sciences
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, almost half of all commercial buildings in the United States were constructed before 1980. These older buildings often reflect the “conventional work environment” evaluated in the National Institute of Health study. The buildings were constructed at a time when energy was cheap and indoor air quality was barely on the radar.
The process of converting an older building into a “green” building saves energy and also improves the health and productivity of those people living and working within the renovated space.
“Cognitive function scores were significantly better in Green+ building conditions compared to the conventional building conditions for all nine functional domains. These findings have wide ranging implications because this study was designed to reflect conditions that are commonly encountered every day in many indoor environments.” Environmental Health Perspectives
According to E3 Prime Environments’ CEO, Curt Monhart, the personal stories that surface following client energy efficiency renovations almost always reflect the improvement of the indoor environment. A brief list would include increased health, better productivity, less stress, improved concentration, more comfort, less noise, etc. Often the older technologies associated with the “conventional work environment” are noisy, smelly, hum, flicker, run too much, are too dim, break down or are just plain annoying. One renovation customer illustrated exactly what the study found when they noted: “I don’t feel like I’m working in a fog anymore!”
In summary there is a direct relationship between the indoor environment and productivity. When the air within a building is clean, the lighting good, the noise diminished, and the space is comfortable and inviting, productivity increases! When you add the energy and cost savings of Green buildings – it is truly a winning combination.
Building owners hire E3 Prime Environments to solve funding concerns while creating ideal building environments in terms of energy and water consumption, comfort, productivity and sustainability. Our scope of work includes commercial, industrial, multi-family and non-profit buildings, as well as agricultural applications. Project development work includes identifying and quantifying opportunities for saving energy and water-including the adoption of renewable technologies-recommending the optimal funding option, ensuring all project-eligible utility rebates and incentives are taken advantage of and providing project management support.