How to Engineer Healthy Buildings

Photo credit: (c) Milieu

Whether you’re planning a refurbishment or starting a new development, creating a healthy office building needs to be higher on your agenda than ever before.

Healthy buildings might not be something that many have previously considered when choosing to develop, purchase or rent a commercial space and almost definitely not when applying for jobs, but Covid-19 has changed the global landscape and we are thinking about our health now more than ever.

So how can you create a healthy building?

There are a number of factors to consider:

The design of the ventilation system is so important. Think about getting in the highest amount of fresh air possible and getting it moving through your building, with less air recycled. More fresh air leads to increased brain function which in turn leads to higher productivity. Filter the air at source to rid it of particulates and microbes as far as possible.

Drinking water should be filtered. To attain the highest quality drinking water, we suggest UV disinfecting and localised carbon filters can be fitted at every drinking water outlet with additional carbon filters just before you drink.

Use clean materials which will not introduce pollutants into the building. Use materials which do not harbour microbes, e.g. use copper for tea-making surfaces rather than plastics which allow viruses to ‘survive’ on their surface for extended periods.

People movement
Build healthily, incorporating multiple stairwells in new builds to allow passage of people from one floor to another with no over-crowding. Refurbish existing stairwells to allow a more enhanced user experience and encourage use of stairs rather than the lift. This reduces microbial transmission and increases opportunity for exercise within the working day.

Ensure access to daylight for all staff and windows that people can look out of, where possible, preferably over a green space (difficult in some places where you may need to bring the green indoors – see below).

Heating and cooling
Design your building to be not only thermally efficient but to keep a constant temperature with feedback controls. People are uncomfortable when temperatures are too low and lose concentration when temperatures increase. Increased temperatures also encourage the reproduction of microbes.

Provide quiet areas as well as areas with background noise so people can choose to work where they feel most productive.

Smart technology
Use automated smart technology to track occupancy densities, air and water quality as well as humidity and temperature.

Add plants
Humans, in general, are happier in a green space or by a window where they can see a green space. Bring the green space into your building by using a planting consultant who will can design where your plants will go and select plants which absorb higher levels of carbon dioxide and produce more oxygen, thus increasing air quality at the same time as providing a calming and inspiring space to work.

Article curated by Milieu


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BDC 305 Jun 2023