When I think back to the 1990s and early 2000s it was the beginning of the revolution in green buildings. Today, there’s a new revolution afoot. Wellness in buildings is the new green. The Green Revolution was all about optimising the performance of the building and making it as energy-efficient as possible.
Today’s push towards ‘Building wellness’ takes into account the human aspect. It aims to create a positive place to live and work, one that makes people happier, healthier and more productive. A study in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2016 directly quantified the impact of indoor environmental quality on cognitive function.
By changing levels of ventilation, carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds, the study measured how the indoor environment in which we work and live affects us. On average, cognitive scores were 61% higher in the Green building and 101% higher in the Wellness Building than in the conventional building.
Staff costs – including salaries and benefits – account for up to 90% of a business’ overheads. So, their productivity – or anything that impacts their ability to be productive – should be a major concern. Even a 1% increase in staff productivity – or a 1% decrease in staff turnover – can have a noticeable effect on a company’s bottom line.
As the benefits and importance of building wellness increase – driven by the likes of the Government’s Clean Air Strategy 2019 and the arrival in the UK of international standards such as WELL and Fitwel – the incorporation of wellness into our buildings is no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’.
Within ‘Well Buildings’ sits a measure for indoor air quality, so its value and importance is being acknowledged alongside other essentials like light and water. HR professionals can start to see a path towards improving air quality in practical, accountable ways with accreditation frameworks helping to steer and endorse successful outcomes.
The British Council for Offices’ (BCO) study Wellness Matters report – published last year – talked about the importance of driving improvements in indoor air quality and states the business case for investment in it.
BREEAM – the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning buildings – has also introduced an Indoor Air Quality plan to enhance the wellbeing of the people who live and work in them.
Ultimately delivering indoor air quality at work is a collaboration. There is progress – the science is improving – we are seeing good results from the use of cutting edge plasma and UV-C technologies in HVAC systems and an increasing number of air quality sensors in the workplace.
And a Well Building framework gives forward-thinking, early adopter organisations the chance to get ahead and meet the demands of a new generation of workers. For them the focus on health over wealth is a well-documented priority in a salary / benefits package.
But for the vast majority of companies indoor air quality occupies little head space. This is something we are keen to address, debate and ultimately improve. When you consider that 90% of our lives are spent indoors and every day we breathe in 10,800 litres of air without knowing anything about it, let alone how it is affecting us, it is time to talk.
For further insights from Dr David Glover into how indoor air quality can contribute to happy, healthy and more productive workforce download his White Paper for free visit https://plasma-clean.com/products/indoor-air-quality/