How Sustainable Building Design Principles Impact Workplace Wellness?
In today’s competitive workplace, employees are evaluating all aspects of a job before making employment decisions. Salary, benefits, culture and function are all major factors, but increasingly job applicants are looking for wellness initiatives built into their workplace experience. In a space that often leaves employees feeling stressed, stiff and sick, sustainable building design principals can help to mitigate these kinds of problems — and make an employer more attractive to job seekers.
How can organizations use sustainable building design principles to encourage a healthier environment at the workplace? Let’s take a look at ways building owners can promote well being and reduce operation costs at the same time.
6 Fundamental Sustainable Building Design Principles
Green, sustainable building design is about promoting wellness through concepts such as sustainable, restorative and resilient design for the environment and occupants alike.
According to the WBDG (Whole Building Design Guide), a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences, “building construction and operations can have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment, on society, and the economy.” Green building measures in both new construction and retrofitting projects provide both cost savings and improve the occupant experience.
While the definition of green or sustainable building design is constantly evolving, the WBDG identifies six fundamental principles:
OPTIMIZE SITE POTENTIAL
One of the most essential components of any building design is a proper integration of the overall design with sustainable elements. Whether the site is a single office building, a school campus or a large complex such as an airport, site design considerations ideally take into account aspects like orientation, location, local ecosystems, transportation methods, energy use and much more. Starting with a proper site selection, including rehabilitation of existing structures, will help optimize the sustainability of a project.
OPTIMIZE ENERGY USE
Enhancing the energy performance of an existing building can help to increase overall energy independence. While operating at a net zero energy usage obviously benefits buildings and the environment the most, finding ways to reduce energy load and increase efficiency can all have an impact on reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
PROTECT AND CONSERVE WATER
Fresh water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource in the United States. Green building design and construction take this into consideration by using water efficiently during construction and establishing water recycling for on-site use.
OPTIMIZE BUILDING SPACE AND MATERIAL
Optimizing building space and resources is another important sustainable building design principle. An increasing global population (9 billion+ by 2050), will result in an even larger scarcity of resources, higher demand for new housing, and lack of available building space. The use of natural resources for building construction from framing to finishing touches can minimize damage to the environment while promoting a healthy living environment.
ENHANCE INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of any building has a direct impact on the health of occupants. The IEQ affects their comfort and productivity. A sustainable building generally functions by maximizing architectural daylighting, ensuring proper ventilation, optimizing acoustic performance, controlling moisture, and avoiding the usage of materials that have high-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions. These are all integral components that affect occupants’ overall well-being.
OPTIMIZE OPERATIONAL AND MAINTENANCE PRACTICES
Optimization of a building’s operating and maintenance practices help to ensure improved working environments, productivity, energy efficiency and ROI. This includes metering to track the progress of sustainability initiatives, such as reductions in water usage and energy.
Responsive Sustainable Building Design
To reap the fiscal, physical, and psychological benefits of healthy buildings, strategic sustainable building design principles must be implemented in every project. With experience in LEED Certifications and WELL Building Standards, the design experts at KMB seek to propose and implement environmentally sound practices on all projects based upon historical evidence of practical, economical results.
Read more: “What is Sustainability in Building Design?”