The Need for Healthy Buildings

New research published in McGraw Hill Construction (MHC)’s new SmartMarket Report, “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings”, reveals an industry wide commitment to improve the healthy impact of buildings. The research includes opinions from contractors, architects, owners, human resource pro-fessionals, medical professionals, homeowners and homebuilders.

According to the study, one clear trend is the important role that the rise of the sustainable building movement has played in driving consideration of health factors in the design and construction of build-ings. Building owners, architects and contractors with a high level of involvement in sustainable build-ing – those with sustainable projects accounting for more than 60% of their overall work or portfolio – are also using more sustainable products and practices and are more influenced by health factors in the decisions they make on projects.

This is certainly the case in Lake Mills, WI, on the Lake Mills Elementary School project. Find in this issue our Cover Story, and learn how contractors, architects and the community worked together to create a healthy, sustainable atmosphere for K-4 students.

Additional key findings from the SmartMarket Report include:

  • Owners and architects agree that greater public awareness would encourage a stronger focus on health during design and construction. Forty-six percent of owners and 45% of architects surveyed ranked public awareness as one of the top three drivers of an increased focus on health during design and construction. The top driver for contractors was more demand from owners (56%), though public awareness was the second important driver (39%).
  • Architects and contractors report a fairly wide use of healthy building strategies today, and expect that use to increase in the next two years. Most used strategies include daylighting, low-VOC products and non-toxic building materials, and mechanical ventilation strategies that maximize air exchange. While design and construction strategies that maximize physical activity are only currently used by 43% of architects today, 61% expect that use to increase by 2016.