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Graduate Studies

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Other studies have examined how ventilation rates, combined with the presence of pollutant sources, can affect productivity. These studies provide evidence that increased ventilation, including increases above common guidance levels such as ASHRAE’s ventilation standards, improve occupant productivity. Increased occupant control over ventilation has also been shown to improve productivity. Higher indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have been directly associated with impaired work performance and increased health symptoms. Historically, it was believed that these associations exist only because higher indoor CO2 concentrations, resulting from lower outdoor air ventilation rates, are also correlated with higher levels of other indoor-generated pollutants that directly cause the adverse effects. More recent studies, however, have found that CO2 itself, even at levels previously considered acceptable, may have adverse effects.

Considering the benefits and demonstrated return on investment, building owners and operators should consider proactive methods of improving IAQ. Established strategies and guidelines are readily available to help identify and implement IAQ-related improvements. These include recognizing and addressing potential and real IAQ issues during the design, construction, renovation, and ongoing maintenance of buildings. Research has found that the benefits of IAQ improvement far outweigh the costs, with estimates of 3–6 times returns for increased ventilation, 8 times returns for increased filtration, and up to 60 times returns when all improvements and related benefits are combined. Collectively, the scientific literature demonstrates that improved workplace productivity and reduced absenteeism from improved IAQ have been shown to provide substantial financial benefits, with the benefits often greatly outweighing the associated costs.