Among the many exciting trends surrounding green building methods, one in particular is taking human-centric design to entirely new levels. Healthy buildings are structures that improve the health and lives of occupants by harnessing scientifically-backed design methods. Healthy buildings are inherently sustainable, but their green benefits go beyond the power grid to offer wellness to those who live and work within their walls.
The ideological foundations of healthy buildings are anchored by nine core criteria that were developed by Harvard researchers at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The nine elements of a healthy building are ventilation control, moisture levels, natural lighting, presence of pests, temperature regulation, occupant security, noise levels, air quality and water quality.
Healthy Building Certification
A building’s adherence to these criteria improves its chances of being recognized with green certifications like WELL, LEED, or BREEAM that measure similar performance indicators. For especially healthy structures, the WELL Standard issues a “Health-Safety Seal” which marks buildings that have virus mitigation tactics in place, such as ramped-up ventilation or oxygen-boosting greenscaping.
Indoor environmental quality inspections are used to assess the impacts of a building on the physical health of its occupants, which is a major factor in the overall health of a building. The CDC recognizes that pathogens can travel through building ventilation systems, and recent research from inspections indicates that up to 80% of these pathogens can be eradicated by ventilation monitoring and air scrubbing.
A Healthier Future By Design
The COVID-19 pandemic posed a unique challenge for facilities management, forcing workers to balance their essential roles with their responsibility to keep buildings safe and running smoothly (even empty ones). In the future, new facilities construction will increasingly devote resources to healthier, more efficient structures that incorporate smart building management systems and other time-saving technologies.
Explore the infographic below to learn more about what makes a building healthy, and the benefits that come from running a healthy building versus an unhealthy one.
Mike Floeck is a writer for BigRentz covering architecture, sustainable construction methods, and green building technology.