A few weeks ago I ran across a post by someone who claimed that he had improved his productivity by installing a CO2 monitor in his office and opening the window when the reading went over 1,000 ppm. There are measured decreases in cognitive function at 1,000 ppm and lower. This made me curious, so I bought a CO2 monitor for my home office. The monitor clearly shows higher readings when the doors have been closed for a while. I have had the alarm sound at 1,000 ppm when exercising in the same room with it.
Now when I see the reading go above 600, I open a door for a bit. It makes a noticeable difference on the monitor very quickly. I don’t know if it is making me any more productive, but I at least have not felt unusually tired since starting this protocol. It could be entirely psychosomatic, but I will take every benefit I can get while trying to do difficult work.
This has been making me wonder how poorly office spaces and schools are designed for cognitive work. We are at a point in history where we have very well sealed environments with people in them trying to do more cognitive work than ever before. This trend will only continue. Every space housing people should be monitoring CO2 (and probably other attributes, like VOCs) and fixing things where the numbers are too high.
Apparently the UK regulates CO2 in schools. I am not aware of any such regulation in the United States. Here in Florida, primary school students are lucky to be in a permanent building, so I do not expect that any exceptional investment is being made in ventilation.
Yesterday I carried my CO2 monitor around to various meetings in different places (much to the amusement of those with whom I was meeting). Every place I checked was at least 200 ppm higher than outside. In one office, two guys are working in a room that read over 1,500 ppm. I wonder if they would be more productive with proper ventilation.
I wonder how cheaply such monitors can be made. Could they be made small enough to fit in a smartwatch?