December 11, 2015Study builds on recently released “Impact of Green Building on Cognitive Function” study by researchers at Harvard University, SUNY Upstate Medical. A new study released today finds that doubling the ventilation rate in typical office buildings can be reached at an estimated annual energy cost of between $14 and $40 per person, resulting in as much as a $6,500 equivalent in improved productivity per person per year. When energy-efficient technologies are utilized, the study found the energy costs to be even lower, with a minimized environmental impact of approximately 0.03 additional cars on the road per building. The research, titled “Economic, Environmental and Health Implications of Enhanced Ventilation in Office Buildings,” was conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical, Syracuse University and Carrier. The study was supported by United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) and its UTC Climate, Controls & Security business, a leading provider of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, building controls and automation, and fire and security systems. The report was published today in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’s special issue “Indoor Environmental Quality: Exposures and Occupant Health,” and builds on the recently released “Impact of Green Building on Cognitive Function” study by the same research team. Also known as The COGfx Study, the research found cognitive function test scores improved 101 percent in green building environments with enhanced ventilation compared to conventional building environments. “This study shows there is no longer a tradeoff between energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality – both can be achieved together to accelerate the green building movement,” said John Mandyck, UTC Chief Sustainability Officer. “Readily available, energy efficient technology can turn office buildings into human resource tools that improve the health and productivity of the people inside.” Researchers studied three indoor environments achieved by four different heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system strategies across seven U.S. cities as outlined below. For each scenario, the team selected the Department of Energy Medium Office Prototype (a 53,000 square foot, three-story building with more than 260 occupants) as the standard; used state average utility prices for each city; and referenced salary data obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Three indoor environments: standard ventilation at 20 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per person, the green condition used during The COGfx Study; 30 percent higher ventilation than ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010, which is required to obtain a U.S. Green Building Council LEED® credit for enhanced ventilation, equivalent to 27.6 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per person; and 40 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per person, the enhanced green condition used during The COGfx Study.
- Four HVAC system strategies: variable air volume (VAV) and fan coil unit (FCU) systems, both mature technologies typically used in office buildings. Both systems were evaluated with and without an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), which improves system energy efficiency.
- Seven U.S. cities representative of different climate zones: Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; San Francisco, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boston, Massachusetts; and Boise, Idaho.