Healthy Buildings

Healthy Building – Healthy People

18th January 2022

Can indoor features like pollutants and lighting effects affect our health?


Whether we talk about homes, schools, workplaces, health care facilities, universities, shopping centers, or those used for religious or recreational purposes we spend almost 90% of our time in indoor environments which directly impacts our health.

A healthy building has many benefits such as occupant health, productivity. Etc.

What is a Healthy Building?

A healthy building is a commercial, residential, or public building which is designed in ways that promote the health, safety and wellbeing of its inhabitants. This is achieved by combining principles and insights from the fields of engineering, construction, medicine, and psychology in order to create better indoor environments in the buildings where people spend most of their time. But while green building focuses on the way buildings interact with their environments, in recent years there has been a growing interest in understanding and improving indoor environments. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it had grown increasingly clear that the way buildings are designed and maintained has a profound impact on the people inside them.

Foundations of a healthy building
  • Ventilation
  • Air quality
  • Water quality
  • Thermal health (temperature and humidity)
  • Dust and pests
  • Lighting and views
  • Noise
  • Moisture
  • Safety and security
Key factors

Fresh air and ventilation – Improve air quality with ventilation and fresh air. Proper air exchange can help dispel odors, chemicals and CO2 while balancing energy use and reducing disease transmission.

Air filtration – Effective filtration is essential for air quality – it can help reduce pollutants and other microbes from recirculated and outdoor air.

Temperature and humidity – Maintaining proper temperatures in your building not only improves occupant comfort but can also potentially minimize the growth and spread of many pathogens. Hit your humidity target: 40-60%. In that range, you’ll decrease exposure to particles and improve occupant comfort.

Green Buildings are healthy

There is already plenty of evidence that a green building is healthy for its occupants, more so than a conventional one. And this makes sense too: for example, a green building can use more natural ventilation which improves indoor air quality, and a green building can incorporate more daylighting which improves productivity.

How Healthy Buildings Are Certified

LEED and WELL certifications measure different aspects of sustainability and quality to determine which buildings are healthier than the rest.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

WELL (International WELL Building Institute Building Standard)

According to WGBC

In a 2004 study by Carnegie Mellon, highlighted in our 2014 Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices report, researchers showed that natural ventilation or mixed-mode conditioning showed a 47-79% decrease in HVAC energy use, which resulted in a 3-18% productivity gain, with an average ROI of at least 120%. So, bringing in more outdoor air reduced energy costs and improved the productivity of the workers leading to a huge monetary benefit.

A study by Harvard showed that cognitive scores were 61% higher on the first day of worker exposure in a “green building” (higher outdoor ventilation) and then 101% higher on the second day than a conventional building.

There are a host of other examples, but it’s clear that green buildings can be healthy and lead to productivity gains too.

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