The construction industry is poised for a shift towards healthier building methods and design practices according to a new SmartMarket Report by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with Delos.
The report sheds light on the market drivers causing large-scale shifts within the construction industry and causing a renaissance in health and wellness-focused properties.
“The increased attention to building health impacts is just beginning,” said Stephen A. Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics in a press release discussing the report.
“In a similar way several years ago, companies engaged in green construction because of the demonstrable business and financial benefits they were able to achieve. The findings of this report demonstrate that the focus on buildings that enhance the health and well-being of their occupants is likely to follow a similar trajectory, boosted by those who have committed to sustainability in their organizations.”
It is noted for the first time that business owners are at the helm of the healthy building movement and are demanding more research into the benefits that healthy buildings can have for their tenants, employees, business, and bottom line. In fact, 94% of Owner HR executives report their company takes health factors into account when making decisions on the design, location, and operations of their buildings.
For years, interior designers and architects have been at the forefront of change, driving health and wellness design practices in the built environment. With new and inexorable research becoming more available to the public, the industry is preparing for a new age of building that prioritizes environmental sustainability and the physical, mental, and social well-being of occupants in ways never seen before.
Top Commercial Property Drivers:
Many of the major factors discussed in ‘The Drive Towards Healthier Buildings’ report encourage greater focus on health impacts going forward including:
- Facility owners are the top driver in encouraging greater industry focus on health for the commercial property sector.
- Greater public awareness of health impacts of buildings on occupants is the most important factor for owners and architects.
- More Stringent Code Requirements to increase occupant health is listed as the fifth most important commercial property driver at 28 percent.
- More data on design approaches that positively impact health comes in at 28 percent where it’s tied for the sixth most important driving force.
After years of meticulous research and quantifiable studies into the physical, social, and psychological impacts of construction and design on issues such as Sick Building Syndrome, airborne material hazards facing occupants, efficacy of plants in the built environment, and Biophilic design methods, the industry has built up the momentum to break away from the long-held building practices. The report outlines several key market identifiers that stood out and are helping to propel the industry forward in a healthy and sustainable fashion.
Top Health Implications Driving Construction and Design Methods:
The report outlines the top five healthier building features that are currently in use, and which implementation into building design is expected to rise over the next several years.
- Natural Light Exposure and Better Indoor Lighting: Cited as one of the most important issues facing building occupants, contractors, and designers will be inputting more natural lighting and lighting fixtures to minimize circadian rhythm disruption. A move towards more natural and effective lighting in design layouts has the propensity to improve occupant energy levels, productivity, and overall mood.
- Accessibility to Nature and Outdoor Views: According to architects and contractors, one of the top five healthy design strategies is to increase occupant exposure to nature, natural elements, and incorporate outdoor views. A shift from the traditional closed off, lean indoor environment to an open and biophilic inspired atmosphere supports mental and emotional well-being.
- Construction with Non-Toxic Building Materials: The third highest ranking practice in the Healthy Products and Practices section of the report scores non-toxic building materials as an industry priority moving forward. This is not the only air quality-related practice listed, but at number three it’s significantly higher than Ventilation Strategies for Maximizing Air Exchange, Use of Natural Ventilation, and CO2 Sensors. Air quality is unequivocally a top priority and focal point of the healthy buildings renaissance moving forward.
- Design and Construction Strategies that Encourage Physical Activity: The design practice with the largest growth margin (18 percent) since 2014 is the trend towards active environments that encourage physical activity over static or stationary construction techniques. Active design is a recent design trend in which urban buildings and interior spaces are configured to encourage physical activity. This includes the use of sidewalks, walkability to stores and restaurants, and the availability of outdoor spaces such as parks that allow for exercise.
Other Important Facts from the Report:
‘The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings’ report is a wealth of information and a true in-depth analysis of the entire architecture and construction industry from multiple points of view within a business. Below are several miscellaneous data points that we thought should be highlighted in our high-level overview of this extraordinary study.
- 92 – Percentage of public health professionals that are researching the impact of the built environment on building occupant health and wellness
- 42 – Percentage of building owners that believe health and wellness research is a top driver of design and construction approaches
- 82 – Percentage of architects that are using non-toxic building materials in their designs
- 66 – Percentage of current Human Resource executives that place a high priority on social interaction spaces when considering new buildings
- 44 – Percentage of HR employees that believe access to natural light and external views throughout the workplace can have a significant impact on health and productivity of occupants
This diverse report is a landmark step in the progression towards healthier people and sustainable building practices. With the distribution of health-focused information such as the ‘Drive Towards Healthier Buildings’ and other reports grounded in sound science and constructive intention, the outlook moving forward can only be described as optimistic.
Source: The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings: The Market Drivers and Impact of Building Design on Occupant Health, Well-Being and Productivity. Rep. no. 1. Dodge Data & Analytics and Delos, Sept. 2016. Web.
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