BOSTON, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — They’re called “green buildings:” Office space focused on energy, waste and water. They aren’t new. They’ve been around for 30 years, but today there’s a new standard called healthy buildings. These new structures promise to actually keep workers not only healthy, but happy.
Instead of ‘sleek’ or ‘modern’ this downtown Boston office is being called ‘nurturing.’
“I think taking seriously peoples’ health especially in the work place is critically important.” Said Rick Kobus, co-founder of Tsoi Kobus Design.
Architect Mike Proscia stated, “This space is new. It’s fresh. It’s got the views. It’s got these cool lights; this great meeting area.”
“Look at our beautiful kitchen. It is a healthy space because you know we are promoting wellness,” said Peining Lu, an architect for Tsoi Kobus Design.
“Even the plates are designed to encourage healthy eating,” explained Proscia.
And small plates equal less food which equals a better diet. Nourishment is one of seven ingredients used to certify a building healthy.
Joseph G. Allen, DSc, MPH, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Environmental Health from the Harvard TH Chan School Of Public Health elaborated: “Focusing on the occupants inside of the building rather than just the building performance itself.”
Since we spend about 90 percent of our time inside, Harvard professor Joe Allen says that’s why this new building movement is important.
“Things like air quality and lighting and noise and dust and pests all of these are going to influence our health indoors and we have an opportunity to create these healthier indoor environments when we control these factors.” Professor Allen said.
Factors as small as our chairs.
“Motion chair provides a lot of flexibility so you can literally swivel on it. You are supposed to move around when you are working; actually pretty good for your muscles.” Lu shared with Ivanhoe.
This healthy concept is new to Boston thanks to Rick Kobus’ firm and others.
Kobus said, “And it was an important test case for us. We wanted to put our self as the guinea pig before we tried it on our clients.”
Professor Allen says a healthy building means healthier workers who call in sick less, produce more and improve their company’s profits.
“In fact if you factor in the cost of peoples health the benefits far out way the costs.” Allen stated.
And this design movement isn’t just for new buildings. Old offices and schools can all be converted into healthy well buildings. Today more than 300 buildings around the world are seeking their well certifications. Go to www.wellcertified.com for more information.
Contributors to this news report include: Pamela Tomlin, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Steve D’onofrio, Videographer.
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IT’S CALLED A WELL BUILDING
BACKGROUND: More than 50% of the world’s population currently works in some form of office. Features of an office such as people, building space, equipment, furniture and the environment, must fit together well for workers to feel healthy and comfortable and able to work efficiently. The average employee spends roughly 90% of their worktime indoors. Therefore, indoor environment has a direct relation with the employee’s health and well-being, while 10% of the employee’s performance may be increased by achieving the best indoor environmental quality. The most important factor for optimum performance is temperature and illumination. Most people correlate job stress with an increased likelihood of physical health issues such as insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attacks. It could also cause numerous detrimental effects to your mental health. Chronic job instability and unemployment is a particular concern that can negatively impact mental health for many people. Too much job-related stress can result in certain mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as drug abuse, alcoholism and gambling.
OFFICE ENVIRONMENT: Maintaining a healthy office environment requires attention to things like chemical hazards, equipment and work station design, physical environment like temperature, light, noise, and ventilation, and even environmental exposures. A well-designed office allows each employee to work comfortably. The design of green buildings has become broadly adopted. By definition, green buildings focus on minimizing impacts to the environment through reducing energy usage, water usage, and environmental disturbances from the building site. These green buildings are aimed to improve human health through design of healthy indoor environments. The benefits related to reducing energy and water consumption are well-documented, but the potential human health benefits of green buildings are only recently being investigated.
ADVANCES IN GREEN BUILDINGS: A “high-performing building” is one that meets the standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, which promotes energy efficiency and good indoor air quality in buildings. A “green-certified” building is one that not only is high-performing, but also meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The construction of these buildings consumes large volumes of resources, which is why integrating biodegradable, recycled and sustainable materials makes a huge difference. In just tweaking a building’s design, it can save on energy use and benefit occupants by taking advantage of on-site light and air. Professor Joseph G. Allen at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says “There is much more to a healthy building. This year we released ‘The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building’: ventilation, air quality, thermal health, moisture, dust/pests, lighting, noise, safety/security and water quality. A building that meets these foundations is optimized for health, well-being and productivity.” More information here: http://9foundations.forhealth.org/.
(Source: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/green-workplaces.aspx and Professor Allen)
* For More Information, Contact:
Joseph G. Allen, DSc, MPH Marjorie Dwyer
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Environmental Health Media Relations Manager
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health