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.

Kemper System Is Developing Product Declarations to Meet LEED Requirements

To satisfy new LEED certification requirements for green building construction, Kemper System America Inc. is developing both Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs) for liquid-applied roofing and waterproofing products.

The latest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, LEED v4, includes two new transparency elements for Building Product Disclosure and Optimization which can contribute up to four points towards a certification:

  • “Environmental Product Declarations” credits require the use of materials that meet EPD or similar disclosure criteria.
  • “Health Product Declarations” accrue “Material Ingredients Credits” for products that use designated methods to disclose composition to at least 0.1 percent.

To help customers obtain these new LEED certification points, Kemper System is planning to develop EPDs for products beginning in 2017 and issue upon completion; and to issue HPDs for all relevant products by the end of 2017.

Since the LEED rating system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1994, it has become a standard in green building certification, and it has adapted to meet the demands of building owners and regulators for transparency and sustainability.

USGBC Releases Annual Ranking of Top 10 States for LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual ranking of the Top 10 States in the nation for LEED with the state of Illinois placing first.

The per-capita list highlights states throughout the country that are making impactful strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources; save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and create a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

“Every story about a green building is a story about people,” says Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “USGBC’s annual recognition of the Top 10 States for LEED goes beyond gross square feet or number of projects and factors in LEED’s potential in a given state to be part of the daily life of the state’s residents. This per-capita approach tells a great story about how LEED has become an important benchmark in the transformation of the nation’s built environment. LEED-certified buildings and the innovations they have driven contribute substantially to our national economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the communities where they are found. We commend the business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals in each of these states for making the commitment to create a healthier, more sustainable future.

“Illinois has so many committed business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals who are using LEED to transform their built environment, producing many innovative spaces that will improve the health of our shared planet, as well as the health of the people who use those buildings every day,” adds Fedrizzi.

The per-capita list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2014. Illinois certified 174 projects representing 42,457,254 square feet of real estate, or 3.31 square feet per resident, in 2014.

USGBC calculates the list using per-capita figures as a measure of the human element of green building, allowing for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and, accordingly, number of overall buildings.

“Illinois has long been a green building trend setter where companies have made sustainability part of their business plan,” says Brian Imus, executive director of USGBC Illinois Chapter. “As a result, Illinois is now positioned to be a leading exporter of sustainable technology and design to emerging markets where demand for LEED is growing exponentially.”

A sample of notable projects certified in Illinois in 2014 include:

There are more than 487 USGBC member organizations with a headquarters in Illinois and more than 10,273 LEED credential professionals across the state.

The full ranking of the top 10 states includes:

 Rank  State  Projects certified in 2014  Square feet LEED certified in 2014  Per-capita square footage
 
1
 
Illinois
 
174
 
42,457,254
 
3.31
 
2
 
Colorado
 
102
 
15,816,498
 
3.15
 
3
 
Maryland
 
132
 
15,583,423
 
2.70
 
4
 
Virginia
 
150
 
18,617,712
 
2.33
 
5
 
Massachusetts
 
99
 
14,662,950
 
2.20
 
6
 
Hawaii
 
30
 
2,657,808
 
1.95
 
7
 
California
 
517
 
69,762,936
 
1.87
 
8
 
Georgia
 
87
 
17,748,781
 
1.83
 
9
 
Minnesota
 
39
 
9,511,684
 
1.79
 
10 (tied)
 
Arizona
 
82
 
11,152,201
 
1.74
 
10 (tied)
 
New York
 
250
 
33,691,209
 
1.74
 
Not ranked
 
Washington D.C.
 
102
 
17,716,622
 
29.44

(Washington is not ranked, because it is a federal district, not a state.)

Collectively, 1,662 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified within the top 10 states in 2014, representing 251.7 million square feet of real estate. Worldwide, 4,502 projects were certified in 2014, representing 675.7 million square feet.

More than 26,600 projects representing 3.6 billion square feet of space have been LEED certified to date, with another 42,000 projects representing 8.8 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification. USGBC launched LEED v4, the newest version of the rating system, in the fall of 2013. The latest version continues to raise the bar for the entire green building industry, which Forbes Magazine projects could be worth up to $960 billion globally by 2023. LEED v4 features increased technical rigor; new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and midrise residential projects; and a simplified submittal process supported by a robust and intuitive technology platform.