Building certification programs, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), focus on promoting sustainable building practices that reduce a building’s environmental impact. However, these programs also have a significant impact on the health and well-being of building occupants. In this article, we will explore the ways in which building certification can improve the health and well-being of those who live and work in certified buildings.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is a critical factor in maintaining good health and well-being. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Poor indoor air quality can cause headaches, fatigue, respiratory problems, and other health issues.
Building certification programs, such as LEED, require buildings to meet specific indoor air quality standards. Certified buildings must use low-emitting materials, provide adequate ventilation, and minimize the use of chemicals and other pollutants that can affect indoor air quality. This ensures that building occupants are breathing clean air, which can improve their health and well-being.
Daylight and Views
Exposure to natural light is important for maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle and regulating mood. Studies have shown that access to daylight can improve mood, increase productivity, and reduce stress levels. Building certification programs promote the use of natural light by requiring buildings to have windows that provide access to daylight and views of the outdoors. This can lead to improved occupant health and well-being.
Noise pollution is a significant problem in many buildings, particularly in urban areas. Exposure to excessive noise levels can cause stress, sleep disturbances, and other health issues. Building certification programs address acoustic comfort by requiring buildings to meet specific sound insulation and noise reduction standards. This ensures that building occupants are not exposed to excessive noise levels, promoting their health and well-being.
Thermal comfort is another critical factor in maintaining good health and well-being. Temperature and humidity levels can affect comfort and productivity, and exposure to extreme temperatures can cause health issues. Building certification programs require buildings to meet specific thermal comfort standards, ensuring that occupants are comfortable and healthy.
Building certification programs also promote active design, which encourages physical activity and movement. Physical activity is critical for maintaining good health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and improving mental health. Certified buildings promote active design by providing amenities such as bike racks, showers, and fitness facilities. This encourages occupants to be physically active, improving their health and well-being.
Access to green spaces is important for mental health and well-being. Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve mood, and promote relaxation. Building certification programs promote the use of green spaces by requiring buildings to have outdoor spaces that are accessible to occupants. This ensures that building occupants have access to nature, promoting their health and well-being.
In conclusion, building certification programs have a significant impact on the health and well-being of building occupants. They promote indoor air quality, daylight and views, acoustic comfort, thermal comfort, active design, and access to green spaces. By improving these factors, building certification programs can improve occupant health and well-being, leading to increased productivity, improved mood, and reduced stress levels. If you are a building owner or tenant, it is important to consider the benefits of building certification when making decisions about your building.