It rightly sets out that as we spend the majority of our lives in buildings we should design them to help us to look after our wellbeing.
In the US there is a certified code for a WELL Building Standard with silver, gold and platinum levels. It covers health and wellbeing issues such as:
• air, which should be filtered;
• water, which should be purified and de-chlorinated;
• light, which might be daylight, daylight-mimicked or UV light to provide vitamin D;
• fitness, through the building encouraging movement, the use of stairs or including a gym;
• comfort, through the control of noise, electromagnetic fields, etc;
• mind, by reducing stress, providing plants and relaxation support.
All these aims are of course in addition to the basic requirements of a building that it should be a safe and secure place to be, able to protect us from the elements.
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a recognised condition. Possible risk factors for SBS may include:
• poor ventilation;
• low humidity;
• high temperature or changes in temperature throughout the day;
• airborne particles, such as dust, carpet fibres or fungal spores;
• airborne chemical pollutants, such as those from cleaning materials or furniture, or ozone produced by photocopiers and printers;
• physical factors, such as electrostatic charges;
• poor standards of cleanliness in the working environment;
• inadequate ventilation when using chemical cleaning products;
• poor lighting that causes glare or flicker on visual display units;
• improper use of display screen equipment;
• psychological factors, such as stress or low staff morale.
Developers and those who own buildings have a duty of care to the building occupants.
I’d be happy to hear of any thoughts on how new builds and existing buildings can be made healthier.
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