Harvard Study: Green Buildings Provide Nearly $6 Billion in Benefits to Health and Climate

These previously undocumented health and climate benefits are in addition to $7.5B in energy savings, for a combined $13B in total benefits

FARMINGTON, Conn., Jan. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Did you know buildings can deliver billions of dollars’ worth of public health benefits. Yup, so that’s including fewer hospitalizations and reduced climate impacts? A new study says that’s the case. However they must be they’re energy efficient buildings.

Experts at Harvard University examined a subset of green-certified buildings.

That was over a 16-year period in six countries: the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Germany and Turkey. Known as HEALTHfx, the study found nearly $6 billion in combined health and climate benefits.

In some countries, health and climate benefits far exceeded. That’s in dollar amounts related to direct energy savings.

Globally, the studied green-certified projects saved billions of dollars in energy costs.

Similarly, globally, 33,000 kilotons of CO2 were avoided. That’s equivalent to 7.1 million fewer passenger cars on the road for one year.

This equates to:

$4.4 billion in estimated public health benefits from fewer:


Hospital visits

Asthma attacks

Respiratory symptoms

Lost days of work

Lost days of school

Also, $1.4 billion in estimated climate benefits from reductions in:

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Methane (CH4)

Nitrous oxide (N2O)

This is all in addition to $7.5 billion in energy savings from the green-certified buildings studied. Likewise and considering that the buildings studied included only LEED® certified buildings. All which are approximately one-third of the global green building stock. Then total benefits worldwide would be therefore even greater.

So In fact, HEALTHfx found that on average, for every dollar saved on energy costs by green buildings, another $0.77 was saved in health and climate benefits. Most noteworthy that in China and India, the effects were even more dramatic. That’s with most importantly approximately $10 in health and climate benefits for every dollar in energy savings.

Dr. Joseph Allen, Assistant Professor of Exposure Assessment Science and Director of the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, led the research.

So this latest study builds on the team’s 2015 COGfx Study. Finally and more important information, COGfx is shorthand for your brain’s cognitive function. That which showed 101% improvement in cognitive function test scores. That’s when workers spent time in an office with high ventilation, low CO2 and low volatile organic compounds. That’s compared to when they were in a “conventional” office environment.

In 2016, the team expanded the experiment and found that, in green-certified buildings. Then employees scored 26% higher on cognitive function tests. All reported 30% fewer sick building symptoms and 6% higher sleep quality scores. With HEALTHfx, it’s been shown that better health is found not just inside better buildings. It’s also outside those buildings as well.

The peer-reviewed paper, “Energy Savings, Emission Reductions, and Health Co-Benefits of the Green Building Movement,” was published by the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.1

In conclusion, the full report is available at nature.com/ and www.theHEALTHfxStudy.com. Finally and more importantly, the Primary support for this study came from United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) and its UTC Climate, Controls & Security business.

Source: UTC Climate, Controls & Security ,For more information, follow @UTC_CCS on Twitter.

About United Technologies Corporation, website or follow the company on Twitter: @UTC

1 Piers MacNaughton, Xiaodong Cao, Jonathan Buonocore, Jose Cedeno-Laurent, Jack Spengler, Ari Bernstein, Joseph Allen. Energy savings, emission reductions, and health co-benefits of the green building movement. J Exp Sci Env Epidemiol. 2018.