Survey Reports Health Impacts of Buildings Influence Design Decisions

Nearly three quarters of U.S. architects say the health impacts of buildings are influencing their design decisions. That finding parallels the market demand by building owners, with a solid two-thirds surveyed also reporting that health considerations affect how they design and construct buildings.

These findings and others were released in a ground-breaking report The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016 by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with Delos and the Canada Green Building Council, and with the participation of the American Institute of Architects as a critical research advisor and partner.

The report documents the value and need for more of the research, education, collaboration and outreach efforts that are hallmarks of the AIA’s Design and Health initiative. Since 2013, AIA has invested in expanding the body of knowledge on the connection between design and health, including professional continuing education and the 17-university Design & Health Research Consortium.

“As a society, we spend nearly 87 percent of our time indoors,” said AIA chief executive officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Designing and constructing ‘healthy buildings’ is important to our own well-being.”

“Working with architects, we can accelerate this need for healthier buildings and improve quality of life across the country,” Ivy said. “This report documents how architects can help clients have a positive effect on human health – through the built environment.”

That positive result includes increasing employee participation and fulfillment, the report found. Sixty-nine percent of owners who measure employee satisfaction and engagement reported improvement in both attributes due to their healthier building investments.

According to the report, the top five healthier building features implemented by architects are:

  • Better lighting/daylighting exposure.
  • Products that enhance thermal comfort.
  • Spaces that enhance social interaction.
  • Enhanced air quality.
  • Products that enhance acoustical comfort.

Use of nearly all of these is expected to grow considerably along with further pioneering approaches like the use of biophilic design features, spaces that enhance tenant mood and opportunities for physical activity, the report found.

“The increased attention to building health impacts is just beginning,” says Stephen A. Jones, senior director of industry insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “In a similar way several years ago, companies engaged in green construction because of the demonstrable business and financial benefits they were able to achieve. The findings of this report demonstrate that the focus on buildings that enhance the health and well-being of their occupants is likely to follow a similar trajectory, boosted by those who have committed to sustainability in their organizations.”

Additional highlights from the report:

  • Most owners are not aware how healthy building investments result in business benefits like leasing rates (52 percent) and asset values (58 percent). However, among those that report an effect, 73 percent report faster rates and 62 percent report higher values.
  • According to architects and interior designers, the top driver for greater investment in healthier buildings is improved public awareness of the health impacts of buildings.
  • Public health professionals report that the most common policies currently in place to support healthier building practices are requirements to avoid the use of hazardous materials in buildings (65 percent). The key policy areas that are currently being considered include incentives that encourage physical activity (47 percent) and requirements for ongoing building air quality measurement (46 percent).
  • Ninety-two percent of public health professionals also report that their institutions are actively conducting research on the influence buildings have on occupant health and well-being.
  • Architects are most aligned with their clients (owners) when it comes to understanding the goals of healthy building investments, as compared to other industry players, recognizing that improved tenant/employee satisfaction and happier and healthier occupants is the primary focus for owners related to their investments.
  • The largest percentage of owners, at 42 percent, identify that they are very interested in partnering with architects to help increase their ability to implement healthy building practices. While low, it is notably more than the next two highest potential partners – facility managers and educational institutions, both at 31 percent.

Download the full study The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction SmartMarket Report.

The report also received support from CBRE, Dewberry and the U.S. Green Building Council, with additional support from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions and the Regenerative Network. Other organizations that participated in the research process include the American Society of Interior Designers, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and the World Green Building Council.

Drexel Metals Inc. Is a Cool Roof Rating Council Licensed Seller

Drexel Metals Inc. becomes a Cool Roof Rating Council Licensed Seller. As a CRRC Licensed Seller, Drexel Metals is eligible to rate its products to be listed in the CRRC Directory. The CRRC is a non-profit educational organization to implement and communicate a radiative energy performance rating system for roof surfaces, support research and serve as an educational resource for information on roofing. The CRRC was created in 1998 to develop methods for evaluating and labeling the solar reflectance and thermal emittance of roofing products and to disseminate the information to all interested parties.

“This is the first step toward getting our products listed in the Cool Roof Rating Council Directory,” says Brian Partyka, president of Drexel Metals. “The CRRC Directory is where code bodies, architects, building owners and specifiers visit for product rating information.”

Upon completion of the rating program, products from Drexel Metals will be listed in the CRRC Directory and may use the CRRC Product Label on its product materials.

RoofPoint Administration Transfers to Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress announces the administration of RoofPoint has been transferred to the Alliance. RoofPoint is a voluntary, consensus-based green building rating system that provides a means for building owners and designers to select nonresidential roof systems based on long-term energy and environmental benefits.

Originally developed by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and co-sponsored by the Alliance, RoofPoint is a roofing-specific version of a green building rating system that promotes an environmentally responsible built environment.

“The increasing need for energy efficient and environmentally friendly roof systems makes RoofPoint an important component of our industry,” says Alliance president, James T. Patterson C.P.M of CentiMark Corporation, Canonsburg, Pa. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to manage RoofPoint, and to continue the essential role it plays in promoting environmentally sustainable buildings.”

To ensure a smooth transfer of RoofPoint to the Alliance, a task force has been established to examine RoofPoint’s data and determine next steps.

Task force members are Rob Therrien, president of The Melanson Co. Inc., Keene, N.H.; Helene Hardy-Pierce, vice president of technical services, codes and industry relations for GAF, Parsippany, N.J.; Brian Whelan, senior vice president of Sika Sarnifil Inc., Lyndhurst, N.J.; Jim Barr, president of Barr Roofing Co., Abilene, Texas; and Mark Graham, vice president of technical services for the National Roofing Contractor Association (NRCA), Rosemont, Ill.

The task force will present its recommendations to the Alliance Board of Trustees during its Nov. 17 meeting in Chicago.

Proposed ASTM Standard Will Provide Guidelines for Fire Resistive Materials Inspection

A proposed ASTM standard will provide a needed set of guidelines for conducting and reporting on the on-site inspections of fire resistive materials. Anyone interested, particularly people with inspection experience, is invited to help create the standard (WK54567, Practice for the On-Site Inspection of Installed Fire Resistive Materials).

Both spray-applied (SFRM) and intumescent (IFRM) materials are used on structural steel and other substrates to maintain structural integrity and safe conditions for as long as possible when a fire happens.

“These materials are a vital component in designing schools, hospitals, homes, offices, factories, petrochemical plants, and other places where structural steel is crucial to supporting the load of the structure,” says ASTM member Phil Mancuso, technical services manager, Isolatek International. “It is important that steel and other key structural elements are directly protected and properly inspected to ensure safety.”

In addition to giving building officials and fire marshals a way to inspect SFRM and IFRM materials, the proposed standard will offer potential code language that references both existing and new methods to inspect the materials. The proposed standard will also be used by architects, specifiers, building owners, and others involved in the fireproofing industry.

ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member at www.astm.org/JOIN.