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Trouble concentrating? CO2 may be to blame.

Excessive carbon dioxide is one of the biggest environmental problems. It’s also the reason it can be so hard to focus on solving the problem.

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Excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is an environmental problem: CO2 absorbs a wide range of energy and heat and re-emits it back onto the Earth’s surface, heating up the planet. Increased greenhouse gas concentrations correlate with a 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in average global temperatures since 1880. And while most conversations around the emissions reduction tend to look to the future potential for large scale environmental impact, recent studies show that CO2 may be having a more immediate effect much closer to home.

According to a 2018 global study, we spend approximately 90% of our lives indoors, whether that’s in the office, our car, or especially at home. Due to limited airflow in these enclosed environments and the carbon dioxide we produce as we breathe, CO2 levels within these environments can build up quickly. High levels of CO2 in indoor environments can prevent you from thinking at your best - reducing productivity and limiting demanding functions such as strategic thinking and the ability to respond to a crisis. Typical indoor concentrations of CO2 sit somewhere between 400-1,000 parts per million, but CO2 levels in office conference rooms can rise to up to 3,000 parts per million – which might explain why you may have had trouble keeping yourself awake in a meeting or two.

But the implications of CO2 in buildings goes beyond needing another cup of coffee. When exposed to too much CO2, the brain doesn’t operate as effectively as it should. Beyond its ability to stop us performing at our best, excessive CO2 can also be linked to respiratory issues, restlessness, increased heart rate and high blood pressure. In fact, some studies have shown that the cost to society of excessive CO2 is similar to those caused by obesity and even smoking.

So what can be done? Smart building technology can intelligently sense room occupancy and air quality and pump the right amount of oxygen into the room. Ultimately, though, a long term solution that reduces overall CO2 in the atmosphere is the top priority. Siemens has committed to going carbon neutral by the year 2030. And by committing to reducing CO2 within their own day to day environment, they are keeping the team productive and ready to tackle the issues at hand.