Scientists Probe Indoor Work Spaces for Clues to Better Health

Hillman Hall, at Washington University in St. Louis, was designed with easy access to stairways, lots of natural light and other health-minded features. A yearlong study begun this summer will test if the design features boost employees’ physical activity and lead to greater collaboration.

Hillman Hall, at Washington University in St. Louis, was designed with easy access to stairways, lots of natural light and other health-minded features. A yearlong study begun this summer will test if the design features boost employees’ physical activity and lead to greater collaboration.

Many people pay little attention to the air, light and other elements around them when they are working in an office or are at home.

Scientists increasingly are taking a critical look at such indoor environmental factors, which they say can affect our personal health and work performance. Specially outfitted buildings are being turned into laboratories to determine optimum air-ventilation rates, room temperatures, types of sounds and other features, and even whether these should change during the year.