Redefining Value in the Built Environment

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends over 90% of their life indoors,1 which can be equated to one half of one day per week spent outdoors. Not only does this suggest that the majority of Americans aren't getting their daily dose of sunshine, but it also means they spend most of their time in environments where pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor conditions.

Let's Talk Impact

Most of the time, the short-term effects of pollutant exposure are treatable. Short-term effects may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and asthma aggravation.1 These symptoms are comparable to those of the common cold, so it is important to pay attention to the time and place they occur in order to accurately address the cause.

Long-term effects are typically more traumatic and harder to track. These may include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, in extreme cases. Everybody has a different reaction, so even though some people may not experience negative effects, you never know how many people will. This means that is it vital to minimize pollutants as much as possible.

The Healthy Building Remedy

In 1984, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term "Sick Building Syndrome," referring to the negative health symptoms that people experienced in indoor environments.2 Meanwhile, 30+ years of innovation and research has provided hope that buildings may be able to offer an opposite effect. Once optimized, building features and the environment can improve productivity in a number of ways:

  1. Ventilation and Air Quality - A reduction in VOC and CO2 levels results in higher productivity;

  2. Biophilia - Introducing natural light and elements from nature can improve employee happiness, reduce stress, and increase productivity; and

  3. Thermal Comfort - Studies on thermal comfort have found that employee performance is maximized at temperatures of 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eric Laignel
© 2017, Eric Laignel, National Geographic Society

Quantifying the Benefits

The environment has an overwhelming effect on health, which impacts both people and the overall economy. Healthier buildings foster growth for healthier business with long-lasting benefits, such as reduced absenteeism, improved retention, and enhanced productivity.       

In a study conducted by the Department of Environmental Health in 2016,4 occupants of green-certified, high-performing buildings saw 26% higher cognitive function scores and were noted to have improved focused activity levels, task orientation, crisis response, and strategy planning. In addition, 6.4% higher sleep quality scores and 30% fewer health symptoms were recorded.

Safe Workplace Promotion Services Ontario
© 2011, Safe Workplace Promotion Services Ontario, publicly known as Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Delivering Sustainable Long-Term Value

TBL Building Sciences is maximizing the quality and value of the total built environment. We acknowledge buildings as working assets rather than physical artifacts. This shift in focus allows our clients to optimize occupant performance and minimize life cycle cost.

Resources

  1. https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality#note1

  2. https://stok.com/healthy-building-syndrome-redefining-real-estate-human-health-wellness-productivity/

  3. https://iaqscience.lbl.gov/performance-temp-office

  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316304723

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