CO2 and Productivity
The air we breathe has an impact on our physical and cognitive functioning and well-being. Given that a significant portion of us spend many years of our lives indoors, our living and work areas need adequate ventilation to circulate enough oxygen for us to breathe and absorb. Although too much ventilation can be energy inefficient, too little can leave employees unhappy, tired, and mentally drained. Lack of enough oxygen and too much carbon dioxide (CO2) can negatively impact productivity.
Increased levels of CO2 in enclosed homes and residential spaces can hurt people's efficiency and performance. Because businesses want to continue to boost productiveness of onsite employees and those working from home, it's crucial to comprehend how CO2 impacts work life.
Impacts of CO2 Emissions
Planetary warming means more CO2 in the atmosphere. In 2018 alone, more than 40 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions entered our atmosphere. In turn, these emissions result in higher temperatures, ultimately causing losses at the local level and global losses in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Consider how these losses manifest themselves on a smaller scale. People emit CO2 as they breathe, and this process fills every room where they work and live. The more people a work area contains and the longer they stay there, the more CO2 they release into the indoor environment.
Because of cost and energy concerns, many commercial and business buildings keep their windows sealed to prevent air conditioning and heat from escaping. This means that the air isn't circulating or moving in and out of the enclosed space. This results in increased amounts of CO2 and diminished quality of air in the closed area.
Even with ventilation, it might be hard to detect the high levels of CO2, which causes rooms to feel stuffy. Because inhabitants often attribute the stuffiness to higher temperatures, facilities managers respond by increasing the air conditioning, limiting fresh air being introduced. Air conditioning requires using more energy and results in more greenhouse gas emissions into the earth's atmosphere.
For employees working from home, the inability to detect high levels of CO2 might compel them to increase their air conditioning because of warmer temperatures. In colder seasons, they're likely to seal up their windows to prevent heat from escaping outside, which also increases CO2.
Prolonged exposure to elevated CO2 in one enclosed space can negatively affect the body, particularly the nervous system and vital organs. On the contrary, more oxygen makes a body more alkaline, which is healthier than being more acidic because of increased CO2. Bodies with greater acidity tend to be environments that promote cancer development.
Impacts of CO2 on Productivity
Research is now uncovering the harmful effects of elevated CO2 in office spaces. In a groundbreaking study of indoor CO2 emissions, Emcor, a British facilities management business, found that work performance decreases when amounts of CO2 in the air are high. This drop occurs in both cold and warm air temperatures. Breathing in more CO2 can result in more fatigue, slower reaction times, and poor decision making.
When testing spaces with lower versus higher levels of CO2, Emcor found that employees scored 12 percent higher on cognitive tests when they were exposed to less CO2. They were also able to concentrate better, as evidenced by their ability to work faster by 60 percent than colleagues in high-CO2 areas.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) studied the effects of elevated CO2 on variables such as decision-making and cognitive functioning, both of which decreased with higher CO2 levels. NIEHS asserts that task management and executive functioning are increasingly tricky when there's more CO2 in the air. The long-term effects are flawed decisions and disappointing performance outcomes.
Lower performance means losses for a business in terms of increased operating costs, lost revenue, and wasted time. There are also safety and health implications. When workers are fatigued, make more flawed decisions, and have diminished reaction times, they might have less capacity to react appropriately to a fire or any other emergency. When employees can't perform at their best and are less able to cope with workloads, they're likely to experience more stress and burnout.
Controlling and Monitoring CO2
When workers in offices and at home expeience diminished oxygen and the effects of heightened CO2, work suffers. Organizations should take steps to employ strategies to improve the air in the workplace. Creating a peak working environment with quality air gives companies another competitive advantage and reduces costs in the long run. Improving workplace air cleanliness is cost-efficient in the long term. It's also the right thing to do.
The first line of defense against excess CO2 is ventilation. When buildings allow for circulation through ventilation systems, exhaust fans, or open windows, concentrations of CO2 tend to be lower. In many cases, installing window opening or ventilation systems can provide relatively inexpensive solutions to balancing air quality and temperature comfort.
As an alternative to retrofitting existing buildings, people can get into the habit of opening windows or doors to let air flow more freely. To maintain cost efficiency with heating or cooling, personnel can open doors and windows for brief periods throughout the workday.
Plants are not just for aesthetics or to fill up empty floor space. While plants make many people feel more in tune with nature, they also consume CO2, the very gas that humans emit. This process means that plants can help oxygenate and purify the air humans breathe. In return, humans exhale the CO2 that plants need to live.
There are various types of plants that add both beauty and air purification to a physical space. The areca palm is known for removing formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals from the air. This plant can be expensive, but it often costs less when it's small enough for tabletops. The snake plant, or Mother-in-Law's Tongue, can efficiently transform CO2 into oxygen and remove harmful chemicals. The peace lily is an excellent plant for the indoor office. Not only does it require low maintenance, but it purifies the air and prevents the formation of mildew.
When it comes to helping employees maintain optimal work output, businesses have many options for monitoring CO2 levels. Regularly checking CO2 readings should be just as important as doing so for radon or carbon monoxide.
The most common type of monitor uses a nondispersive infrared (NDIR) sensor. Most NDIRs use a broadband lamp to direct light with an air sample through an optical filter toward an infrared (IR) detector, which measures CO2 in the air. An electrochemical carbon dioxide sensor indicates CO2 levels in the air by measuring electrical currents. A metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) sensor tests for CO2 by measuring the resistivity—ease of electricity flow—of metal compounds in the air.
If you want a CO2 monitor that's accurate, easy to read, and tasteful in appearance then our CO2 monitor will be perfect for you. It uses an NDIR Infrared CO2 sensor, the most common type on the market. The indicator is an easy-to-read maple leaf that displays readings in shades ranging from dark green (very good air quality) to red (dangerously stale air) depending on the CO2 concentration it detects.
The Maple CO2 has the features you'd expect from a high-quality CO2 monitoring system. It's easy to install and can be placed in a visible location for convenient checking. The Maple CO2 works well in private homes as well as dense commercial spaces. Other features of this product are its attractive, environmentally-friendly design and green packaging. The ash tree body makes the monitor charming enough to give as a gift. You also have the option to engrave the monitor with your company's logo.
Companies and employees alike can benefit from understanding the effect of CO2 on productivity. They can take steps to reduce the levels of CO2 to which they're exposed. Opening windows whenever possible, adding plants to enclosed spaces, and investing in a monitor like the CO2 Maple are viable solutions to protect workers and improve their physical environment.