Who Wins the Day – Us or the Earth?

With a tremendous amount of effort being invested into improving the environment and our health by altering the way we build I thought it would be interesting to pose a question. Where do you see the most growth when it comes to changing the way we build? Sustainability or wellness? Personally, I see wellness as the market with the potential for the most growth. As people continue to learn about the negative effects of poor water quality, air quality, and chemical exposure as well as the positive affects of sunlight and natural materials coupled with what we already know about food and exercise it becomes a no brainer that occupants will place greater demand for a healthy building over a sustainable building.

Here’s a quick excerpt from a MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab post:

“While the benefits of healthy spaces have long been qualitatively understood and appreciated, their value and impact on economic decision-making has not been financially analyzed. In this research, we use CompStak and Healthy Building public databases from Fitwel and WELL to operationalize a real estate hedonic model in order to ascertain the value of healthy spaces on the effective rent of offices spaces in ten cities within the United States. These cities include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. We find that healthy building effective rents transact between 4.4 and 7.7% more per square foot than their nearby non-certified and non-registered peers. This premium for healthy spaces is independent of all other factors, such as LEED certification, building age, renovation, lease duration, and submarket. These results indicate that healthy buildings are seen as an asset that correlates with employee or tenant well-being and productivity” (emphasis mine).

So here’s a quick look at what’s happened so far in the United States.

According to the WELL Building Institute there are 16,590 “WELL Projects,” and according to Fitwel there are over 800 Fitwel “certified” projects. Both of these numbers exclude international projects, and considering they are both relatively new metrics the numbers are solid. That information combined with the efforts from Harvard’s Healthy Buildings Program, Purdue’s Center for Plumbing Safety, and others seem to indicated that the materials going into projects and the air and water provided to our buildings is under scrutiny and the codes, which set minimal standards, will no longer be enough.

Where do we go from here.

I’d be foolish to say that sustainability is not going to be a huge factor moving forward. The legislation being passed locally is an obvious indicator of that. However, if you ask me to choose between occupying a building that is built with recycled material and is energy efficient or one that supplies me filtered water with no endocrine disrupting chemicals, plenty of fresh air changes, and a chance to be around nature, I’m choosing the latter.

So what do you think: are healthy buildings the future norm for construction?

Here are a few local projects that have taken the leap:

#energy #wellness #sustainability #environment #constructionmanagement

Author: Joe Kelly

Website builder and podcaster for people who dig construction 🔨 🚧

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