If a school or business wants to boost productivity and performance, the answer may be hiding, invisibly, right under their noses. And in their lungs.
That’s right, air. According to The COGfx Study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Syracuse University Center of Excellence, and SUNY Upstate Medical School, increasing the supply of clean air may boost cognitive functions—how we learn and make decisions– by over 100 percent.
The largest improvements were found in three domains:
Crisis Response: 131% Strategy: 288% and Information Usage: 299%.
(Note:Any thoughts on where we could use some brain boosting ventilation? White House? Pentagon? Tweet Room?)
The study compared the levels of Co2, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) and ventilation in convention building conditions, green buildings, and green with enhanced ventilation.
The study showed a 61 % increase in cognitive function in green buildings compared to conventional buildings, and a 101% increase in cognitive function in Green buildings with enhanced ventilation.
Granted, this is a small study in a controlled office environment. But these large effects should start us thinking about our opportunities to improve the performance of those who learn, work and live in our buildings.
What would it be worth to flip a switch and significantly improve the cognitive performance of the students at your school or the employees at your business?
In a March 2017 presentation at the NFTM conference in Baltimore, Christopher Walinski of Munich Reinsurance, America, discussed how his team is applying enhanced ventilation to an office area on their campus in New Jersey. The team has reduced energy use at their campus by 50% since 2007, and they are using occupancy sensors to manage the additional ventilation efficiently. The team is using plants in area planters and green cleaning to help lower VOC levels.
This work is not a study and they are not collecting data on occupant performance, but occupant comments have been positive. They are tracking the lowering of the Co2 levels (average of 514 in the test space vs 655 in similar office areas). The team expects to expand this enhanced ventilation to more areas on their campus in the future. They may be creating a template for other building managers to follow as they look to improve the productivity and health of their occupants.
In a second study, Cogfx2, the researchers examined ten office buildings in five cities and found that high performing, green certified buildings outperformed high performing, uncertified buildings.
- 4% higher cognitive test scores in high-performing, green certified buildings.
- 4% higher Sleep Quality scores in high-performing, green certified buildings.
- 30% fewer symptoms in high-performing, green certified buildings.
- Thermal comfort and sleep quality associated with higher cognitive scores
Read the report: http://naturalleader.com/thecogfxstudy/study-2/view-the-report
As we looked for the cause of bad decisions and poor performance, our first question has been
“What were you smoking?!”
With what we are learning about cognitive function and ventilation, our second question should be
“What were you breathing?”
Citizen Science offers students a chance to make real observations and discoveries using scientific tools and procedures. While this can inspire some students to become scientists, it will help all students understand science and the world around them.
(link to article on using budburst:https://greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org/enhancing-life-science-education-project-budburst/ )
Link to articles on several citizen science programs:
Here is a peek at some moments from the 7th Annual MOST Conference.
This conference never fails to show me how these programs are bringing exciting and important learning to our children both in and out of schools. Great schools– and schools that want to be great–are wise to pursue partnerships with these programs. The less structured, more fun and experiential model of these programs can reach students which are overlooked or bored in classrooms.
Programs which range from nutrition to robotics to tennis offer students important information and mentors. These programs can fill gaps in the learning and health experiences which many schools no longer provide.
Think of three things that you learned as a child and that you love to do today. How many of those things were taught to you in a classroom and how many did you learn from a parent, friend, or out of school club or organization? Learning is everywhere. Our children will be more successful if we can connect them to their entire universe of learning and growth.
In three hours at the conference, I saw a guided conversation about racism, a session to promote STEM partnerships with the Applied Physics Laboratory, demonstrations of electricity, robotics and physics, a nutritional educational program, a presentation by students who created a world wide tutoring network, and a discussion on generational style differences.
Ever thought about creating a world wide network of tutoring? You could ask these students how they did it.
Remember recess? If your students don’t, talk with Playworks about how to get the most out of play at your school.
If your students want to see how electricity and magnetism work, ask John Walstrum, PH.D at the National Electronics Museum for a demonstration. This piece shows how light striking solar panels can generate electricity to spin the motor and demonstrates polarity.
Partnerships and collaborations are the best part of the conference. This session explored developing STEM partnerships with one of the premiere scientific laboratories in the world, the Applied Physics Lab.
Want to see a room jammed with sweaty teenagers intent on only one thing? Go see a robotic competition hosted by Ed Mullin at the Baltimore Robotics Center at 1001 West Pratt Street in Baltimore.