As the world rises upon the hibernation induced by the pandemic, healthy building becomes inevitable to our long-term existence. During the pandemic and the post-pandemic, we learned, experienced, and addressed the challenges posed by the COVID-19.
We recognized the hidden gaps in our existing infrastructure that are fundamental and critical to supporting ever-increasing concerns of health, safety, and hygiene.
But now when we know these problems do exist, planning and implementing healthy buildings focused on crisis response and health management becomes vital. Undisputedly buildings that offer greater flexibility and an additional layer of safety against future pandemics would be the next step forward.
The Role of Healthy Buildings
When pandemic restrictions are lifted in phases, the demand for safer and smarter facilities surged dramatically. Since it was essential for facility managers and business owners to ensure health guidelines are followed and safety measures are implemented – the deprivation of vital resources and features in the infrastructure proved to be a bottleneck in enacting the necessary precautions and measures prescribed by the Government.
The stringent compliance added an additional pressure on businesses already dealing with a heightened risk of infection spread to battle for their survival. Retaining employees and drawing them back to work becomes an arduous task. No one wanted to risk their life owing to the lack of safety equipment and vulnerable facilities that provided limited life support and protection.
Whether it is about ensuring the social distancing guidelines, providing sanitizing facilities, ensuring clean hygienic facilities, or incorporating HVAC systems to ensure safe to breathe air, modern facilities are not designed to think beyond aesthetics and decorative values. But, it is time for a paradigm shift where healthy buildings with smart health responsive systems and an emphasis would rise to the occasion. The drift from the ordinary would rely on adaptability and its anticipation to correspond to our health-oriented approach and goals to provide a safe and protective environment for employees.
But the idea of a healthy infrastructure is not an endeavor accelerated by changes invoked by the pandemic. These ideas pre-existed in our lives way before the unprecedented event. We imagined and even encouraged the idea of healthy buildings in form of sustainability. Sustainability is not a mechanism it is a way of our life in the future. It promotes green practices and behavioral changes that positively impact our environment and an ideal world inspired by these transformations.
How to Plan Buildings of Future
To build the infrastructure for the future, facility managers or business owners have to rethink their goals. The spatial design, infrastructure, and interior have to plan in accordance with the framework that not just provides an efficient energy management system, hands-on accessibility, superb ventilation but also supports health & well-being, encourages sustainability, and puts green practices into motion.
A great way to acknowledge these goals is by adopting third-party certifications programs for your project. The aim of these certifications is to ensure your projects are in line with the industry standards. The most prominent certifications are LEED and WELL. Picking one of these certifications would guarantee recommended enhancements and competitive advantage in terms of designing smart buildings by auditing and evaluating your projects on various pointers.
WELL Certification Program
WELL – a certification program is also known as Fitwel. Fitwell provides additional support and guidance to build and plan infrastructure keeping the health and well-being of occupants in focus. The certification is designed based on COVID-19 research and has been backed by the Central for Disease Control (CDC) as a research and evaluation partner.
About LEED Certification Programme
LEED Certification program is another program that aims to assist project managers in creating facilities with health and safety as a denominating factor. LEED Certification program goes hand in hand with the Fitwell certifications. It is why they can be coordinated in parallel to each other without disrupting the approach each of them entails.
Healthy Buildings Reflects a Healthy Mindset
While infrastructure, facilities design, and planned spaces act as a blueprint for creating smart facilities. Healthy buildings are more than just walls and rooms. Healthy buildings reflect a healthy mindset, behavior, and pattern that we follow at workplaces or similar areas. Healthy buildings manifest healthy habits from healthy people with a positive intention and optimistic perspective. These intangible factors are correlated in every sense with the tangible ones to work as a foundation for positive organizations. And the benefits are definitely attractive and valuable for any organizations’ growth.
Some of the incredible benefits are:
- Boost in Productivity and Confidence
- Positive Thought Process and Creativity
- Expressiveness and all-round comfort
- Happy and Joyful Environment
- Minimal Stress and Hectic
- Elevation in Satisfaction and Fitness of Occupants
- Reduced Healthcare cost
- The surge in Engagement and Concentration Levels
- The decline in Energy Usage
- More Profits by Emphasizing Employee Retention
How to Take Advantage of Healthy Buildings Benefits
Healthy buildings are not imaginative; they are the epitome of progressive efforts, determination, and contribution of everyone who actively draws the facility in one way or another. A few significant but necessary changes can undoubtedly win brownie points in time to come. Here are some quick recommendations:
1. Build Office with Homelike Experiences
Offices or workplace that offers an intimate experience and home-like feeling has the power to draw out greater productivity, positive mood, and amplified comfort levels. The enhancements can be made by changing ventilation, color, furniture, lighting, and other factors described in 9 Foundations of healthy buildings.
2. Embrace the Power of Nature
The essence of nature and even a hint of greenery can uplift well-being to create a sense of the refreshing environment around. Nature has been believed to be linked with happiness and prosperity. While open spaces and parks can motivate people to exercise and spend time outside to relax. According to a study, nature contact is believed to be an important component for eliminating stress. Not having this luxury can be replaced with windows placement with an external view or even paintings that create a resemblance of nature.
3. Plan for Shared Spaces for Collaboration and Team Activities
Instead of private and isolated offices, experiment with the arrangement of seating and structuring. Open spaces are something that can encourage seamless communication, collaboration, and outright flow of ideas.
4. Make Facility Speak to Its Heart
Facilities are although designed to encounter hurdles faced by occupants. These facilities must also become a common part of our goal in safeguarding people’s health and safety. The ideal spatial design should be able to become part of managers’ effort to educate, sensitize, and communicate about the measures of safety, hygiene, and cleanliness.
5. Place Health and Fitness into Centerpiece
Healthy buildings are not suggestive rather pragmatic. The upgraded facilities must prompt employees to walk, exercise, and do the physical activity required to keep them up in shape.
At the bottom line, it is important to acknowledge that our meanings of healthy build would continue to evolve. We may now believe, our buildings are certainly the most outstanding and competitive. But pandemics like such could be very soon and these healthy buildings would be there to act as the first line of defense.