Increased office productivity through improved indoor air quality

Povl Ole Fanger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearch


Control of indoor pollution sources and ventilation are both means of improving indoor air quality. Three independent experiments have recently documented that removing a pollution source or increasing the ventilation rate will improve perceived air quality, reduce the intensity of several Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) symptoms and improve the productivity of office workers. In these experiments, the performance of simulated office work (text typing, addition and proof-reading, all typical office tasks requiring concentration) improved monotonically as the proportion of persons dissatisfied with the air quality was reduced by either measure. The quantitative relationsh8ip was 1.1% change in performance per 10% dissatisfied, in the range 25-70% dissatisifed, or 0.5% change in performance per 1 decipol (dp), in the range 2-13 dp. Significant improvements in performance occurred only when the intensity of general SBS symptoms such as headache and difficulty in thinking clearly were significantly reduced, which implies that this was the mechanism of causation. The performance of simulated office work increased monotonically with decreasing pollution load by a 1.6% increase in performance for each twofold decrease of pollution load in the range 0.3-2 olf/m2floor, and with increasing outdoor air supply rate by a 1.8% increase in performance for each twofold increase in the outdoor air supply rate in the range 0.8-5.3 L/s per olf. As these results clearly justify increased initial and operating costs, future developments in HVCAC technology may include "personalized air ", new ways of improving the quality of supply air (e.g., by filtration), more extensive use of heat recovery from exhaust air and systematic selection of low-polluting building and furnishing materials.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedings of Fifth International HVAC&R Technology Symposium
Publication date2002
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Event5th International HVAC&R Technology Symposium - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 29 Apr 199830 Apr 1998
Conference number: 5


Conference5th International HVAC&R Technology Symposium

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