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What are the Essential Components of a Healthy Building?

Simon Turner, CEO and Managing Director, Western Region for Healthy Buildings and Carolyn Rickard-Brideau, partner and office president of “Little” focus on what we mean by the term, “Healthy Building.  This video is the first in a series of videos taken from an interview, the full version of which is available as an audio podcast. To hear the complete audio version, click here. Simon focuses on buildings from the structural and equipment perspective while Carolyn focuses upon the way humans react to their environment and surroundings, which includes the buildings that they work in.

To Simon, a healthy building is an efficient building. Simon thinks of the buildings that we work in as a “machine” which helps work on behalf of the humans that sit, walk, run and work inside it. It’s supposed to be an asset, both from an accounting perspective and a production perspective.AllenMatkins Banner Ad10915

Carolyn, adds the perspective that the humans, inside the building must be working in a way that is most efficient and productive. As Simon says, the building must contribute to that efficiency and productivity.

I agree with both.  As a machine, I think of a building, no differently than a car. If I need to get to and from work or use the car for work, it needs to get me from one place to another timely and cost effectively.  If I’m stuck in traffic all the time, if it breaks down often or there is a leak in the bottom of the car allowing Co2 to filter into the car, I am going to replace it………….if I survive.

AMP LogoThere is no place for a machine that detracts from our efficiency and productivity.  The more a building increases our productivity and efficiency, the better off the business will be.

Carolyn adds that, from an architect’s perspective, a “Healthy Building is something that helps humans operate at their highest potential”. Isn’t that what all tools are meant to be?

“The essential components of a healthy building are those things that help our bodies respond to our environment in ways that are healthy for us.” ~ Carolyn Richard-Brideau.

Carolyn discusses “Salutogenic Design”, which Wikipedia defines as “….an approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease. More specifically, the “salutogenic model” is concerned with the relationship between health, stress, and coping.” In the full interview, this becomes more obvious to the discussion. The focus is on how to make the glass half full rather than half empty. Yes, we shouldn’t ignore building factors that can make us sick, but we can add focus on those things that can make us healthier and more productive.

The components can include natural daylighting, connections to nature, live plants, clean and fresh air, temperature control & thermal comfort as well as those things that help us get up and more active in buildings. All those things that have a beneficial impact on human health.

The assumption is that the better we feel, the more likely we will be productive.





Something to Add?

  • Great topic Howard!

  • Mack Barnhardt

    I would say proper preventive maintenance because this is where I see most commercial buildings are failing when it comes to Healthy Buildings. Most property management will take care of the areas that people see but when you look where no one goes it is another story. These poor conditions become visible at supply and return air grills, ceiling tiles, corners of floors and other areas that are divided by employee & visitor boundaries. The pipes, duct & equipment are what makes our buildings comfortable to everyone. I’m in filtration and see the conditions of HVAC equipment & duct or the pipes and every day I am surprised on how dirty some of the equipment is that I see. I see the HVAC system the lungs of the building and 90% of the buildings I walk into the filters are not sealed. Outdoor & indoor air pollution bypass the MERV Value filtration the building was set for and organic & non-organic matter builds up on internal surfaces.


    • Excellent points Mack! This is truly a point that needs to be exposed about our buildings. You are the guru of filtration and your feedback is so appreciated by us all!

  • hfklaw

    Mack, interesting that you raise these points. Simon does discuss maintenance and that he sees poor maintenance issues more than anything else, later on in the interview. That portion of the discussion will show up in the following videos or, if you want to just hear the complete audio version, you can just go this this link: http://creradio.com/shows/is-your-building-healthy-and-why-youre-dying-to-find-out/

  • hfklaw

    P.S. Mack, yes, why don’t we set up a brief interview on the specific issue of filtration as a follow up to this show?

    • Mack is awesome Howard and he would make a wonderful guest and show! He is here in Las Vegas too! He runs a Linkedin Group that is focused solely on this topic as well!

    • Mack Barnhardt

      Sure, I would be open to that next year. Sorry for the late reply. -Mack.