Building a Healthy & Productive Space

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The average person spends 93% of their time indoors. Let that sink in a bit and you’ll agree that a key consideration when renovating or building a new space is the quality of the interior environment.

A construction project not only needs to look attractive, it must be designed and built in a manner that optimizes overall comfort and performance for end-users and occupants. The design and building industry for residential and commercial projects are becoming more conscious of the direct correlation between happiness and wellness of occupants and the interior environment of a structure.

“The Integrated Benefits Institute estimates that health-related productivity losses cost U.S. employers over $225 billion annually. Conversely, a recent JLL research paper reported 20% productivity gains from workplaces that have been “greened.” Another paper, published in May 2015 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, contended that companies with strong health and wellness programs outperform others on the stock market.”

Below are a few considerations when designing, renovating and building a new space.

  • Provide as much indirect natural sunlight transmittance possible for a space through exterior glazing as well as interior glass partitions in lieu of conventional wall systems. Based on a variety of studies, adding natural light to any space generates healthier surroundings. This is because well diffused natural lighting provides more efficient light with less glare and reduced eye fatigue.
  • Air distribution needs to be evaluated to assure that ventilation meets or exceeds occupancy requirements. The green building press has found that there is up to a 10% gain in productivity from improved ventilation and air distribution.
  • Use of materials with low VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) and effective air flirtation provide extended comfort.
  • Consider the industry and process flow of business operations and create multi use spaces where positive interactions can take place between different departments or business units. Creating a cohesive design that promotes collaboration has been proven to increase productivity.
  • Promote the use of outdoor spaces by providing shading through natural vegetation or hard structures. Partially conditioned outdoor seating can also increase the capacity for common and collaboration areas.
  • Assess new technologies that provide better control and management of the interior building environment. Building management systems are becoming a norm for both residential and commercial projects. Implementing a building controls system will optimize cooling and ventilation, match occupancy patterns to energy usage and provide proactive maintenance of equipment while reducing overall operational cost of the space. Systems available today are cost effective and can easily integrate to manage lighting, shading controls, HVAC, security, audio, and communication functions.

Ideally, the building design and its construction should align with a firm’s business strategy. Consider the return on investment for effectual space planning, improved material, and methods of installation. Providing a space that promotes occupant/employee engagement, better teamwork, and that reduces absenteeism should be considered during the development and construction phase of every project. Even though a space may look great, there are many other factors that should be considered when asserting building/space requirements and parameters.

Author: Fadi Daoud, President Arete Construction Inc.

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