Studies are Igniting a Healthy Building Research Revolution

The Syracuse Center of Excellence was recently featured in the May issue of the American Psychological Association as host of the original COGfx Study. The article — “Healthy buildings, productive people” — provides a summary of a variety of additional studies underway akin to that of “buildingnomics,” the latest report published by Joseph Allen and Piers MacNaughton from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Usha Satish, a psychologist from SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The Well Living Lab in Minnesota and Hillman Hall at Washington University in Missouri both captured similar results to COGfx: that buildings do, in fact, have an impact on people’s behavior.

For the American Psychological Association, this is “big news.” The above research provides further evidence that the higher the indoor environmental air quality of a building, the better occupants will feel and function. And although we spend most of our time indoors, not a lot of attention has been given to monitoring those spaces. It’s why the research performed in SyracuseCoE’s Willis H. Carrier Total Indoor Environmental Quality (TIEQ) lab is so important.

The piece also highlights the fact that this type of work isn’t restricted to just engineers or architects, but also requires input from health-care practitioners and psychologists. Additionally, it’s equally important to realize that green buildings shouldn’t be reserved for our office spaces alone — the same strategies can also be applied to all buildings, like our homes, retail stores and restaurants.

These strategies include the following:

  • Bigger windows for more natural light

  • Controllable lighting features

  • Reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide

  • Increased ventilation, lower humidity levels

  • Increased water quality

  • Promotion of physical activity

Going forward,  the Well Living Lab researchers will be exploring “how various lighting conditions affect cognition, productivity and life outside the lab, including sleep.” Their research, combined with the COGfx studies and the research completed at Washington University, will most likely be used to better inform architects on how to design optimal work and living spaces, as cognitive psychologist Anja Jamrozik is quoted saying in the article.

R&T Forum – Green Buildings and Health: From the Lab to the Real World

Dr. Joseph Allen and Dr. Piers MacNaughton of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dr. Usha Satish of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University returned home to the Syracuse Center of Excellence yesterday to discuss the results of their second COGfx study “Buildingomics.” After their initial project revealed a connection between indoor environmental air quality (i.e. low carbon dioxide and volatile organic compound levels) and cognitive function, the researchers wanted to follow-up by looking at work environments as a whole. To do so, they posed the following question: what impact does an entire building have?

Moving from the TIEQ Lab at SyracuseCoE, used in the first study, to real-world office buildings across the United States, the group compared and contrasted variables between high-performing non-certified buildings and high-performing green-certified buildings. Their results revealed that green-certified buildings improve cognitive function in general by 26 percent, but people’s overall health improved by 30 percent, shedding light on the health benefits of enhanced environments. Not only were occupants able to to strategize better, respond faster, appear more focused and manage tasks more efficiently, they were also able to sleep better after they left, showing the long-lasting impact better buildings can have. The difference between the two types of buildings? Controllable thermal comfort and lighting options.

At the presentation John Mandyck said he believes these findings are the missing piece of what he calls the “Green Building Trifecta.” Over the years, green buildings have grown in popularity, but now this study has proven the positive physical and mental impact green buildings can have on tenants, creating an even greater benefit for investing in green-certification. Soon, job candidates may be asking their potential employers at interviews: What are the CO2 levels in the office? What’s the ventilation like in the building I will be working in?


  • Dr. Joseph G. Allen, Assistant Professor, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Dr. Piers MacNaughton, Doctoral Candidate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Dr. Usha Satish, Professor, Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University
  • John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer, United Technologies Corporation

Syracuse University to Host International Building Physics Conference in Fall 2018

Experts on the science and engineering of buildings will convene in Syracuse, NY in September 2018, for the 7th International Building Physics Conference (IBPC). This is the first time this conference is being held in the United States; it is coming to Syracuse based on the region’s strength in research, development and innovations related to indoor environmental quality and high-performance buildings. The conference is jointly organized by the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE), Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the Syracuse University School of Architecture.

The theme of IBPC2018 is “Healthy, Intelligent, and Resilient Buildings and Urban Environments.” It will provide a forum for scientific, technological and design exchanges through multiple platforms:

1) Presentations of original research and development work and findings

2) Demonstrations and exhibitions of innovative green building technologies

3) Discussions of future challenges and opportunities

The IBPC attracts researchers, practitioners, architects, engineers, as well as faculty and students involved in building physics, who share the latest research results with the broader buildings community. The conference takes place every three years as part of the official international conference series of the International Association of Building Physics (IABP). The 7th IBPC builds on the success of the previous six conferences held at cities around the world, including Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2000); Leuven, Belgium (2003); Montreal, Canada (2006); Istanbul, Turkey (2009); Kyoto, Japan (2012); and Torino, Italy (2015).

“IBCP2018 will be the first time this international conference is being held in the United States. It provides an opportunity for more North American delegates to participate in this important international event” says Jensen Zhang, Chairman of IBC2018 and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Syracuse University. “Syracuse University is honored to lead the program committee as the first American host for this transformative event in building physics. A multi-disciplinary team of faculty members from Syracuse University serves on the Technical Program Committee to lead the organization of the various Topic areas ranging from nano-scale materials to building and city scale energy and environmental systems.”

“Syracuse is the ideal location for IBPC’s inaugural US visit because Central New York’s industry cluster in environmental and energy systems has become an international leader with research strengths in high-performance building systems,” says Ed Bogucz, Executive Director of SyracuseCoE. “SyracuseCoE looks forward to welcoming colleagues from around the world who will share the latest advances in research and innovations for healthy and resilient buildings and urban environments.”

“Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is home to international leaders in research, development and demonstration of technologies that contribute to healthy, intelligent and resilient buildings,” says Teresa A. Dahlberg, Dean of the College. “IBPC2018 will bring together outstanding and accomplished thought leaders in indoor environmental quality and high-performance buildings, providing promising opportunities for future collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“Architecture is a practice in transition, and Syracuse Architecture is evolving with it,” says Michael Speaks, Dean of Syracuse Architecture. “IBPC2018 will address crucial issues in architectural practice. Our new faculty have a strong focus on the research and design of high performance buildings, and there is tremendous opportunity for impactful international collaborations at this event.”

The conference, to be held September 23-28, 2018 at the Marriott Downtown Syracuse (formerly the Hotel Syracuse), will cover a wide range of research topics cutting across multiple scales of built environmental systems ranging from nano-material applications, to microenvironments around occupants, to rooms and whole buildings, and neighborhood and urban scales. The goal of the conference is to advance the collective understanding of the nature and behavior of the cyber-physical systems in these different scales, how they interact, and what can be done to optimize their design and operation for healthy, intelligent and resilient buildings and urban environments.

IBPC2018 Session Topics include:

  • Building Materials, Assemblies, And Enclosure Systems
  • Green Buildings, Green Roofs and the Urban Environment
  • Intelligent Monitoring and Management Systems
  • Human Factors: Occupant Perception, Behavior, and Impact on Building Performance
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (Air, Thermal, Daylighting, Artificial Lighting, Acoustical, Visual)
  • Environmental Control Equipment and Systems
  • Modeling, Simulation and Design Processes
  • Innovative Energy and Power Generation and Management
  • Policy and Economics
  • Mission Critical Environmental Systems

More information on the conference, including an overview of the program and specific subject examples for each Session Topic, is available at Sponsorship opportunities for the conference are available, and inquiries may be directed to

About SyracuseCoE

SyracuseCoE is New York State’s Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems. Led by Syracuse University, SyracuseCoE engages faculty, students and collaborators to catalyze innovations that improve energy efficiency, environmental quality and resilience in healthy buildings and cleaner, greener communities. Visit for more information.

About Syracuse University

Syracuse University is a private, co-educational, urban university dedicated to advancing knowledge and fostering student success through rigorous scholarship and transformative research. SU has a long legacy of excellence in the liberal arts and professional disciplines that prepares students to achieve personal and professional success and make a difference in the world.