Why Commercial Design Should Address Air Quality In Offices

Category: Commercial Interiors

Commercial Interior Design Solutions

Commercial design often focuses heavily on aesthetics and effective use of the space available. However, a truly great commercial design company knows that colour schemes and layouts are only part of the job and there are many more functional aspects that also need to be addressed.

One such example is air quality, with research showing that it can have a significant impact upon the health and performance of office staff. Here, we take a closer look at exactly why designers should prioritise ventilation.

Cognitive Function

Over the last four decades, huge advances have been made in terms of energy efficiency within offices. Yet, researchers at Harvard University have found that along the way, office designers have left buildings insulated and cut off from the outdoor environment, putting them at greater risk of ventilation problems.

Furthermore, the researchers found that people working in well-ventilated office spaces, which are low on CO2 and other pollutants, demonstrate superior cognitive function to those working in offices with poor air quality. In particular, the quality of air was found to have an effect on decisions, strategies and crisis response.

“Indoor environmental quality and its impact on health [is] often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen from the Harvard Centre for Health and the Global Environment. “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”


Additionally, according to guidelines published by the Institute of Environmental Epidemiology, good air quality can help to improve office productivity. This can be partly explained by the fact that poor air quality is a contributing factor towards discomfort, ill health, the spread of disease and staff absenteeism.

This is also backed up by a 2004 study carried out by the International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy. Their team of Danish researchers found that poor air quality could adversely affect work performance by as much as nine percent, while simultaneously contributing towards lower overall customer satisfaction rates.

"It has now been shown beyond reasonable doubt that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity," the authors of the study concluded.

Posted 18th March, 2016

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