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Posts Tagged Health and Wellbeing

Over the past few decades, green building rating systems such as LEED and BREEAM have been firm fixtures of the global AEC industry and have helped the drive towards a more sustainable, resource efficient and environmentally conscious built environment. Whilst these rating systems have, to some extent, considered the comfort of the occupants using the buildings, the primary focus has been on efficiency and the impact our buildings have on the external environment.

This, of course, is a highly worthy cause which we must continue to pursue if we are to mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, the health and wellbeing of building occupants – now captured in the first-of-its-kind WELL Building Standard – is quickly establishing itself as another important focus for the industry. This is unsurprising, really, given the wider trend for wellness currently sweeping the globe.

In 2015, the Global Wellness Institute valued the total global wellness market at a staggering $3.7 trillion, covering everything from wellness tourism to healthy eating and nutrition. However, it was the global wellness real estate market that was found to be one of the fastest-growing wellness sectors between 2013-2015, growing an impressive 19% from $100 billion to $118.6 billion. In the same period, the global workplace wellness industry also grew 6.4%, highlighting a growing awareness amongst employers of how the office environment can affect the health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff – and, consequently, their overheads. (You can read more on this subject in our previous blog ‘Can productivity be modelled?’).

While we are well aware by now of the cognitive benefits arising from buildings that are designed with occupants’ health and wellbeing in mind (thanks to the findings of research such as the COGfx study), and of the economic benefits this can offer employers, there are certainly other factors contributing to the growing interest in “healthy” buildings.

A 2016 report from Saint-Gobain UK found that 30% of homeowners, buyers and renters would be willing to pay more for a home that would not impact on their health and wellbeing, highlighting citizens’ growing interest in their own personal health and wellbeing. With the prevalence of common health issues, such as asthma, allergies caused by poor indoor air quality, and increasing reports of sick building syndrome, homeowners and tenants are ready to demand higher wellbeing standards within their properties.

The technology in the healthy buildings space is also progressing and there has even been talk of smartphone pollution sensors and apps which will have the ability to alert users when they are entering a “sick” building. You wouldn’t choose to eat in a restaurant with a poor TripAdvisor review, so just imagine how this sort of technology might shape our decisions on where we choose to work and live.

There is no doubt that we need to turn our attention to improving our buildings in a way which supports the health and wellbeing of the people using them. However, the question clients are asking us today is – will it be feasible to pursue WELL certification for my project?

In order to help answer the question of feasibility for our clients, IES Consulting have recently extended their services to include early-phase WELL feasibility or fit assessments. Led by our WELL AP, Mark Knipfer, the service will help clients to establish the level of investment, or the changes to their typical process, that may be required to achieve a WELL certification. Beyond this, we can also offer WELL certification facilitation management and more surgical milestone review services including: a mid-point certification plan check-up, a pre-submission peer review, a performance verification pre-audit, and/or a curative action assessment following receipt of an initial WELL report, to assist throughout the entire certification process.

Fortunately, the WELL Building Standard has also been closely aligned with a number of existing building rating systems so there is ample opportunity for project teams around the world to align WELL objectives to more familiar certification goals. The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) have already published their Crosswalk Guidance for BREEAM, Green Star and, most recently, LEED, to identify synergies between WELL and existing green building standards and to help streamline efforts for those seeking to achieve dual certification for their projects.

There is definite value to be gained from aligning our green building objectives more closely with health and wellbeing concepts. So, if you’re interested in pursuing WELL certification for your projects but not sure where to start, read more about our WELL services here or contact consulting@iesve.com to find out more on how our team can help.

Can productivity be modelled?

Posted: October 11, 2016 by , Category:Modeling, software

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Health, Wellbeing and…. Productivity! Time has come where we can take a closer, empirical and quantifiable look at productivity. Our recent blog and event on Health & Wellbeing (How to do WELL with IES) has generated significant interest and participation from a wide range of stakeholders. Similarly, the Health and Wellbeing movement, including the WELL standard have been gaining momentum and popularity with building owners, operators and designers. But what is it all about? Investing in the health and wellbeing of our buildings and occupants is often seen as a means to an end. That end is Productivity. From service based organisations who want their office based staff to be more productive to retail stores wishing shoppers to spend a little bit more money, it’s time to start taking Productivity seriously. Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) have begun to explore this concept further by asking a very simple question: Can Productivity be modelled?

Our Business Development Manager Naghman Khan has addressed this question in his article on our DiscoverIES website, where he presents some initial findings of recent research on being able to quantify and model productivity.  Read the full article.

You can access a full description of the research and results, including how to model health, wellbeing and productivity concepts in the VE, by completing this short form.

Lindsey WELL BlogFor this blog Lindsey Malcolm of XCO2 discusses considerations of building services engineers and the potential role of simulation in catering for health and wellbeing in the building industry.

Health and Wellbeing. A phrase conventionally connoting to rhyming proverbs about the doctor-dodging power of a daily apple. Yet the proverbial days of the catchphrase are seemingly behind us, as ‘Health and Wellbeing’ is escalating into the latest buzzword within the building industry.

Our clients are demonstrating a growing demand for office spaces, retail areas and homes that enhance human health, productivity, and quality of environment. A business case for investment in health has driven interest in the commercial sector, and attention to this new industry buzzword in the retail and residential sector signifies this isn’t a short-term fad.

The vision of Health and Wellbeing is the long-term facilitation of productive and comfortable environments for the building occupant. Well-designed and operated environments should inspire conscious and subconscious positive lifestyle choices, resulting in healthier, more productive building users.

Considerations for design and beyond

Human health and wellbeing can obviously be impacted by an infinite number of factors; however, it is easier to consider if we chop this abstract concept into tangible and quantifiable chunks. Several core categories have been identified within the industry covering a broad spectrum of health and wellness drivers and indicators. These range from environmental (air quality, water quality, lighting) to behavioural (nourishment, fitness and lifestyle choices, working patterns and stress management).

As building designers, it is obviously outside our area of potential provision to shape to dietary and fitness of our building’s user. But implementing health and wellbeing into buildings is a holistic concept, and will have tangible effects on areas within our scope (see Figure 1).

The adjustment for engineers to consider is:

As building designers, it is obviously outside our area of potential provision to shape to dietary and fitness of our building’s user. But implementing health and wellbeing into buildings is a holistic concept, and will have tangible effects on areas within our scope (see Figure 1).

The adjustment for engineers to consider is: shifting our focus from the working of the building to the living of its user.

This shouldn’t be viewed as a trade-off against conventional design considerations such as energy efficiency or carbon emissions – our aim should be to adapt our existing solutions to improve our output for the people who will inhabit the building. This may involve throwing rules of thumb out of the window, or being guided by a forthcoming set of industry benchmarks – only time will tell. But for now, what we do know is that demand for healthier buildings is increasing, and we must respond accordingly to these requirements from our clients.

The Role of Simulation

Modelling and simulation support building design. Therefore, in order to improve our building design with occupants in mind, there is clearly opportunity to integrate cutting-edge areas of building simulation technologies.

Areas that could benefit from a simulation-based predictive approach could include:

  • Utilising CFD to assess indoor air quality;
  • Performing discretised zonal analysis of thermal comfort for individual occupants;
  • Performance and feasibility of different ventilation strategies;
  • Moisture and condensation management;
  • Reverberation and acoustic impacts;
  • Measuring and design ambient and circadian lighting.

An exciting assortment of modelling prospects; however, it is important for us to remember that modelling and simulation should support building design, rather than instructing. Particularly for health and wellbeing, where the benefits of a well-designed healthy building can be negated by poor operational use and user behaviours, the simulation of predictive conditions is less significant for design than other areas of the building industry.

And on a practical note, the feasibility of modelling so many different elements of building services is questionable – in terms of both metric limitations and issues on cost and resource effectiveness. Could an industry-wide interest in healthier buildings facilitate interest in the development of new metrics, as a way of regulating a better standard of living? Possibly so. Yet until that day comes, let us remember that simulation used for health and wellbeing should be taken with a pinch of salt – not too much salt, mind.

A healthy future for the industry

Simulation is a fantastic instrument to demonstrate the tangible benefits of health and wellbeing application. But let’s not forget the ultimate goal of the health and wellbeing – whether it be assessed through WELL or loosely ingrained concepts – is to facilitate a productive and comfortable built environment. Simulation can certainly be used to deliver this, but it cannot be considered a one-stop exercise. It must remain a tool to support operational-focused design and help to enforce the positive behavioural changes we are designing into our buildings.

As the health endemic continues to infect the building industry, a new ‘normal’ standard of building will emerge, requiring innovation and flexibility from all parties involved in the creative process to work with new concepts and metrics. As engineers and simulation specialists we can emphasise a greater focus on occupants, ensuring the holistic approach to health and wellbeing required to make a tangible difference to quality of life.

And as our building designs advance in the enablement of healthy living, our old proverb may just need a re-write. Forget the apples, dodge the doctor; it’s the engineers keeping illness at bay.

 

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