In the UK, people spend on average 90% of their lives in buildings or vehicles. When designing and creating new buildings our industry needs to take more account of the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants of buildings - from homes to offices to schools.
Wellness requires a stable, comfortable temperature. However, In 2009/10 there were an estimated 25,400 excess winter deaths in the UK with a large proportion from the coldest homes. Around 90% of hospital wards in the UK are of a type prone to overheating, with limited ability to control temperatures.
Both extremes provide challenges for our industry, to ensure buildings prevent overheating, control humidity, minimise thermal bridging, and provide appropriate heating & cooling systems.
Light levels entering buildings is reported to have dramatic impacts on the quality of life of the occupants: employees working near windows receive 173% more white light exposure during work hours and sleep on average 46 minutes more than employees with no natural light.
Views out of buildings are just as important: a study of workers in a Californian call centre found that a better view out of the window improved performance by between 7% to 12%.
Including good quality of natural light in buildings is vital in the design process. This can be achieved through large windows, sun tunnels and roof windows.
Recent reports have revealed that air pollution is having a dangerous impact on our nation’s health, with around 40,000 deaths a year attributed to poor air quality. The health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution cost our health services and businesses £20 billion a year.
Ideal buildings benefit from ventilation solutions that provide a constant supply of fresh, clean air, with rooms that don’t feel stuffy, that keep you feeling awake.
The Renson Healthbox, exclusive to Travis Perkins plc, is a demand controlled ventilation unit which regulates the amount of extracted air depending on the levels of humidity, CO2, odours and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in each room.
Sound levels in buildings can have a dramatic effect on our health and wellbeing: in hospitals, avoiding stress generated by high sound levels and improving sleep quality helps patients recover faster; research has proven that well-designed sound environments in offices and schools help concentration and communication, improving learning and productivity.