Healthy Buildings | Joseph G. Allen

Summary of: Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity
By: Joseph G. Allen


Welcome to the world of ‘Healthy Buildings’, where the quality of the indoor spaces you inhabit has profound effects on your performance and overall well-being. In this summary, you’ll learn about the importance of the air we breathe indoors, as well as the significance of excellent building infrastructure to maintain and support our health. Discover the interdisciplinary approach, combining health science, building science, and business science, needed for creating better conditions at work and home. As you delve into this engaging topic, you’ll find out how crucial it is to have a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of a ‘Healthy Building’ and how they directly impact our productivity, cognitive abilities, and quality of life.

The Neglected Aspect of Indoor Space Planning

Indoor space planning prioritizes sanitation, wiring, and fire safety, but overlooks air quality. However, research shows that improving indoor environments has numerous benefits including increased productivity and better health. Neglecting infrastructure, as demonstrated by Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 1976, can be disastrous. To create better conditions for work and home life, expertise in health science, building science, and business science needs to coincide. Ultimately, the true cost of operating buildings isn’t energy or waste; it’s the health and well-being of the people inside.

Global Movements in Building Design

The book discusses how changing populations, urbanization, resource use, and climate change are transforming the building industry. As the global population grows and ages, and more people move to cities, concerns about sustainability and health are paramount. The traditional methods of construction and waste disposal are becoming less tenable as we strive to mitigate climate change and address health concerns. The book concludes that the construction industry must collaborate to create buildings that serve people’s needs while also protecting the environment and public health, especially given the growing recognition that employee health includes mental and social well-being.

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

People often overlook indoor air quality despite spending most of their time inside buildings. Air sprays, cleaners, and volatile organic compounds in paints, carpets, and furniture contribute to indoor air pollution, which is hazardous to people’s health. Research shows that improved air quality leads to cognitive improvements and better job performance. Companies that prioritize employee health benefit financially through less absenteeism and better productivity. Building owners can also benefit from creating healthy indoor spaces when tenants learn about the advantages of “Healthy Buildings.”

Creating Healthy Indoor Spaces

To create a healthy indoor environment, companies should consider nine essential components for their building design. This article establishes the guidelines for creating a safe and healthy indoor atmosphere. The components encompass everything from air quality control, insulation improvements, and the presence of pollutants to ventilation, acoustics, and safety and security measures. Indoor spaces that fulfil these components keep the occupants’ health intact by lowering risks posed by unwanted moisture, pollutants, noise, and structural damages caused by water damage. The book also sheds light on the importance of controlling the indoor environment temperature, lighting, and views that can affect the occupants’ cognitive functions and performance. Creating a healthy indoor environment is undoubtedly an investment that not only benefits individual employees but also helps in enhancing the overall productivity of the organization.

Chemical Oversight Failures

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 only bans 9 out of 80,000 chemicals used in America. Grandfathered chemicals and the substitution of equally toxic ones, like BPA, circumvent legislation. People remain unaware of exposure to harmful chemicals because building owners and suppliers lack transparency. As a result, companies struggle to find and eliminate unsafe chemicals. Incentivizing healthier buildings can promote transparency and encourage progress toward safer products. Infertility and other health problems can stem from dangerous chemicals.

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