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Blog 18/06/2019

How architect-designed green buildings support health and well-being

Happy Employee at Desk

We all care about the environment, and modern businesses understand the benefits of supporting employees’ health and wellbeing. So, the idea of living and working in eco-friendly buildings, which benefit people as much as they do the climate, is becoming ever more popular.

Architects are, therefore, becoming adept at incorporating green initiatives into builds that can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of those living and working there.

 

Improving air quality

The problem with older buildings –offices and homes – is that they can have poor air quality. In fact, it’s thought that indoor pollution levels can often be as bad as two to five times higher than pollution levels outdoors.

Some of these pollutions are not obvious factors like second-hand smoke or naturally occurring pollutants like radon gas. Instead, a large proportion is the by-product of the materials used to build and decorate a building.

Known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), these can be harmful to people who come into contact with them on a regular basis - especially in high quantities. VOCs can be a common by-product of items like carpets, paints, solvents, appliances and cleaning products.

Rather than putting up with the problems of an older building, employing an architect to design a new green building, which uses materials with no VOC emissions, can help ensure that the air and water quality is the best it can be. This is particularly important in offices, as a 2011 study by Park and Yoon found that better air quality in a working environment leads to performance improvements of up to 8 per cent.

A green architect will also help your building develop more natural air ventilation, especially through open windows. Again, proper ventilation is ideal for both work and home, with a Harvard study finding that a well-ventilated, green office could improve brain function by 101 per cent.

 

Adding natural light

Natural light is important to our wellbeing. The problem is, especially with offices, that many buildings have been built to cram employees in like sardines, with light coming from artificial sources.

Instead, by asking your architect to focus on creating your office or home with lots of windows and natural light, you will reap the health rewards.

Most importantly, natural light helps keep our circadian rhythm working well, meaning you get to sleep easier, which helps keep us from getting too stressed, one of the key factors for people being absent from work. If lots of windows aren’t possible, your architect will be able to advise on the right colours of lighting – where warmer lights lead to more social interactions while bluer lights lead to better analytical thinking.

 

Add green to your office

Green is a colour that is often associated with creative thinking, which makes it ideal for both offices and homes. This can be done by literally painting your walls green. However, if green walls aren’t possible, you can add other green elements to your building.

This could be adding more plants, or your architect might wish to talk you through the idea of a rooftop garden. Not only is a rooftop garden environmentally friendly, but it can also improve happiness amongst employees as they can escape upstairs to refocus and enjoy some time in nature.

A rooftop garden can also improve your air quality, as the plants can absorb pollutants in the air, replacing them with clean, oxygenated air. This becomes especially good for the environment when multiple offices in a city have a rooftop garden, as these gardens work together to reduce the overall pollution in a city.

 

Visual water displays

The idea of a water fountain or display in your home or office might feel a little out-there, but this is actually a simple way to be more environmentally sound and reduce levels of stress. The sound of running water is a type of white noise, which will cover more ‘industrial’ sounds, such as road traffic or computers.

Some of this water will also evaporate into the air, improving the air quality around you.

 

Breakout areas

Gone are the days when you should demand rows and rows of desks with tiny meeting rooms. The use of breakout space, where staff can get together and socialise, perhaps while working on a project or brainstorming, improves their state of mind. Your architect can design these areas to be accessible, comfortable and useful not just for work, but also for relaxation.

 

In order to plan and create the best green-focussed building that will improve staff wellbeing, you need a good architect to join your team, and they can be hard to find. This is just one reason why specialist architect recruitment businesses like ours are so important.

 

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Tags: Advice Architecture Thoughts

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