Better Thinking

Can better thinking and better health be found in green-certified buildings?

New research says yes. Occupants of green-certified, high-performing buildings saw 26 percent higher cognitive function scores, slept better and reported fewer health symptoms compared to those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green-certified. Those are the findings of a new study from researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

  • The greatest cognitive function differences were seen in the areas of crisis response (73 percent higher in green-certified, high-performing buildings); applied activity level – the ability to gear decision-making toward overall goals (44 percent); focused activity level – the capacity to pay attention to situations at hand (38 percent); and strategy (31 percent).
  • Sleep quality scores were 6.4 percent higher for participants in green-certified buildings, suggesting building impact on sleep quality.
  • Finally, participants reported better environmental perceptions and 30 percent fewer sick building symptoms in high-performing, green-certified buildings vs. high-performing, non-certified buildings.

Based on their latest findings, the research team believes a holistic approach is needed. They call it Buildingomics — a new approach that examines the totality of factors in the building-related environment that influence the human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in buildings.

Through Buildingomics’ multi-disciplinary approach, researchers aim to better understand the building-related factors that influence health in buildings and unlock the ability to optimize buildings for cognitive function and health.

Better Buildings, Better thinking by the numbers

The results are in

26% higher cognitive function scores

In high-performing1, green-certified buildings2 vs. high-performing non-certified buildings

Building Types

High-performing non-certified

Low Total Volitile Organic Compounds and High Ventilation

Low Total Volitile Organic Compounds and High Ventilation

High-performing green-certified

Low Total Volitile Organic Compounds, High Ventilation and Green Certification

Low Total Volitile Organic Compounds, High Ventilation and Green Certification

Higher Cognitive Function Scores

High-performing, green-certified buildings' cognitive function score percent change as compared with high-performing, non-certified buildings


Leverage well-integrated solutions with the help of optimal use of information planning.

Activity Level

Pay attention to situations at hand.

Activity Level

Gear decision-making toward overall goals.


Plan, stay prepared and strategize under emergency conditions.

Sick Building Symptoms - 30% Fewer and better environmental perceptions
Sleep Quality Scores - 6.4% higher

In high-performing, green certified buildings VS. high-performing, non-certified buildings

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