VG’s Holly Hill Selected as Greenbuild Speaker

VG’s Director of Sustainability, Holly Hill, has been selected to speak at Greenbuild 2017,  the largest green building conference in the world with 20,000 attendees. It will be held in Boston this year from November 8th – 10th. Holly will be presenting alongside Eera Babtiwale, VP of Sustainability at HMC Architects, and Nicole Isle, Chief Sustainability Strategist at Glumac. This one-hour presentation, titled “Linking the Science to Design for Our Children,” will review cognitive research and discuss how it is informing design for healthy schools, and will finally tie it all together with the LEED v4 and WELL rating systems. For more information on this exciting presentation, check out the full abstract below!


“Using evidence-based design, living laboratories and virtual simulations, the design community is gaining insider knowledge into how the brain reacts to simulated and real environments. For too long, research and design worlds have been isolated entities; now the communities must be integrated to better understand how the built environment affects cognitive function and enriches lives. Join this fascinating presentation, as science is linked to school design, and to the building certification systems which support healthy buildings.

With more than 50 million enrolled K-12 students, it is imperative that design addresses this critical time of physiological, social, and emotional growth and development. The COGfx Study by Harvard, SUNY Medical and Syracuse University Center of Excellence investigated the impact of ventilation, chemicals, and carbon dioxide on cognitive function, an objective measure of productivity. Researchers found that cognitive performance scores for the participants who worked in the green environments were, on average, double compared to when they worked in conventional environments. This work is a foundational component of a new ‘Schools for Health’ report that explores the methods in the which the school building influences a student’s ability to think well, feel well, and learn well.

How does the COGfx Study then influence design work? With a passion for student success, HMC Architects will demonstrate how ventilation systems, material selections, daylight design and acoustical treatments positively impact students. Case studies include a STEM elementary school which uses daylighting and water demonstration gardens to preserve students’ connection with nature; a performing arts high school with a host of passive design techniques to inspire its students; and a living lab at a high school which implements an active green roof to teach students about the impact of regenerative design on human comfort.

Lastly, how can certification systems enforce the COGfx Study findings and promote the science behind the intuition? LEED for Schools, LEED for Healthcare and the WELL Building Standard have elements which directly correlate to scientific study findings. LEED v4 has taken a heavier stand on interior environments with the Materials and Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality credit categories weighted heavier than previous versions. The WELL Building Standard is based entirely upon building features that impact health and well-being. All seven categories and 102 features correlate to body systems, and conversely, the COGfx study further supports the cumulative research which established the WELL Building Standard.”