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U.S. Building Owners Will Help Drive the Construction Industry to Create Healthy Buildings

U.S. Building Owners Will Help Drive the Construction Industry to Create Healthy Buildings
October 4, 2016 SNH Editorial Team
healthy buildings

The business benefits of healthier buildings are driving increased attention across the design and construction industry to factors impacting physical, social and mental health and well-being.

Building owners, developers, managers and investors in the U.S. are increasingly interested in creating healthier buildings, a new SmartMarket Report by Dodge Data & Analytics, in partnership with Delos, reveals.

The report, “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016,” shows that the design and construction industry in the U.S. is poised for wider adoption of building practices that prioritize the physical, mental and social well-being of tenants and occupants. The study also finds that the owners of such buildings are already starting to see business benefits, such as increased leasing rates and higher asset values.

While interior designers and architects are currently leading the industry in the use of these practices, strong owner interest is likely to increase their engagement, even as the industry continues to gather data on the business and financial benefits of investing in healthier building practices.

“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.”

The top five healthier building features in use currently include better lighting/daylighting exposure, products that enhance thermal comfort, spaces that enhance social interaction, enhanced air quality and 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.

“This report illustrates how the design and construction industry is helping to drive efforts to introduce preventative medical intentions into our built environment, where we spend more than 90 percent of our time,” said Delos Founder and CEO Paul Scialla. “By focusing on people in design, construction, operations and development decisions, we have an unprecedented opportunity to drive innovation, add significant economic value to real estate assets, generate savings in personnel costs, and enhance the human experience.”

Additional highlights from the report include:

  • More than half of owners do not know the impact of their healthy building investments on business benefits like leasing rates and asset values. However, among those that report an impact, 73 percent report faster rates and 62 percent report higher values.   
  • Sixty-nine percent of owners that measure employee satisfaction and engagement report improved satisfaction and engagement due to their healthier building investments.
  • 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.
  • Forty-two percent of building owners believe that more research on design/construction approaches that positively impact health is a top driver, and 40 percent are seeking research on productivity benefits.
  • According to public health professionals, 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), and 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 building impacts on occupant health and well-being.
  • Case studies that demonstrate what can be achieved, including TD Bank Group’s office in Toronto, the first project to achieve WELL Certification in Canada.

To download the full study, “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction SmartMarket Report,” visit here.

The report, “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016,” contains the findings of a study conducted in partnership with Delos and the Canada Green Building Council, with key support from CBRE, Dewberry and the U.S. Green Building Council and additional support from Armstrong Ceiling Solutions and the Regenerative Network. Other organizations that participated in the research process include the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Interior Designers, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers and the World Green Building Council.