Health and Wellness in Buildings: Addressing Challenges Now and in the Future
The importance of health and wellness in buildings
With so much time spent in buildings, improving the health of buildings we work and live in can greatly impact our quality of life.
Many factors account for what makes a building healthy. Humidity levels, air ventilation, temperature, lighting, the presence of chemical-emitting materials and plumbing all affect the health of the occupants of any building.
Yet since the 1970s, buildings have been constructed to be airtight and more energy efficient. However, some of these changes have unintentionally led to negative impacts, such as decreased ventilation. Although these methods of building construction sometimes lower the cost of maintenance, it is important to consider their effects on health by assessing the impact of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) on building occupants. And although many new buildings are energy efficient while considering IEQ, a lack of ongoing performance metrics allows IEQ to drift out of focus.
What is a healthy building and why does it matter?
Simply put, healthy buildings support the health and well-being of occupants through nine key elements that have been defined by public health experts. These elements span from indoor air quality, water quality, and lighting quality, to things like security, human resource policies and the like.
Benefits of a healthy building
Healthy buildings provide a number of benefits to occupants. Along with preventing negative health impacts, healthy buildings promote air quality management, provide access to good quality drinking water, and create more comfortable lighting and acoustics. These improvements increase productivity and have additional lasting positive outcomes for building occupants. Owners and managers also benefit, since a safe environment attracts and retains employees and tenants.
What are the elements of a healthy building?
Many factors contribute to healthy buildings, including IAQ, temperature, building materials and lighting. Understanding these considerations will help ensure that your building does not negatively affect its occupants or surrounding environment, while simultaneously fostering a healthy and productive occupancy. Whether you are trying to avoid mold, reduce viral and bacterial outbreaks or lower VOCs, knowing these standards will help you make informed decisions on how to optimize your building.
More information on healthy buildings
In this e-book, UL’s experts examine what healthy buildings are, why they are important and how to maintain healthy buildings that can increase occupant satisfaction. To download the full content, please fill out the form below.