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A poor indoor environment can detrimentally impact occupants’ health, wellbeing and productivity. Indoor temperature is an important and easily controlled parameter of indoor environment quality and might affect productivity. Productivity is a general term that describes the ability to perform tasks, relying on cognitive systems such as executive function, memory and attention. Research to date has tended to view ‘productivity’ as a single construct and has not asked whether the various mental components underpinning productivity are affected differently by realistic changes in the environment. In this study, 54 participants undertook a range of cognitive tests – each tapping different underlying cognitive abilities – within an environmental chamber under different temperatures. It is shown that working memory and certain executive function tasks are the most affected functions of productivity and indicate a clear optimum range of 17˚C to 25˚ C (in UK climate); tasks such as visual search showed no effect of temperature. However, the effects of environmental conditions were smaller than the differences between individual participants that were observed. This important inter-person variation notwithstanding, understanding the impact of temperature on cognitive functions will impact both productivity and energy use within offices. Significantly, this has environmental and financial implications on building operation and staff productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2022
EventIndoor Air 2022: 17th International Conference of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality & Climate - University of Eastern Finland , Kuopio, Finland
Duration: 12 Jun 202216 Jun 2022


ConferenceIndoor Air 2022
Internet address


  • Thermal comfort
  • Indoor air quality
  • Productivity
  • Work performance
  • Cognitive function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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