Healthy buildings: the human-centric strategy of the future

Everything indicates that healthy buildings are the future. How do we make them a priority in our strategy?

Last week, Clairify attended the HealthBuild Conference 2022. We had the opportunity to speak at the event and share with the participants how our sensors and dashboards contribute to the healthy building movement. At the same time, we had the chance to learn from some of the greatest researchers and industry leaders in the field of air quality and healthy buildings.


It was inspiring to see how healthy buildings are positively affecting the lives of so many in so many diverse areas and stages of life: from schools to workplaces, to hospitals and care institutions. However, something that made us reflect a lot was a comment from one of the visitors: until the event, he had not heard about healthy buildings before. That made us realize that, while air quality and healthy buildings are something that affects all of us, not all of us are aware of this topic.


So, this time, we want to share with you what we learned at the conference, but also share our analysis on how to make air quality and healthy buildings a higher priority for businesses and governments and why. 


What are the current challenges?

There is a lot of ambiguity regarding the definition of a healthy building. This lack of clarity forms a barrier to growing the Healthy Building Movement at scale and makes it less attractive for commercial real estate.


Additionally, the financial aspect related to healthy buildings might be posing a challenge for investing in healthy practices and solutions. While the long-term benefits of healthy buildings tend to be often discussed, businesses might be missing input on the short and mid-term financial ROIs of upfront investment in healthy buildings. So, it's not that organizations do not want to have healthy solutions, but unfortunately, they can't financially argue why they need it now.


However, this might soon change. Research has started focusing more and more on how health and healthy buildings influence the economy. During the conference, we had the opportunity to hear some very interesting propositions, which we will review below.


So, let’s break it down.

First things first, what needs to be considered when talking about healthy buildings?


A common misconception is that a healthy building refers to only the building itself, but in fact, a healthy building encompasses the whole building environment, including the community and the day-to-day well-being. Why is that?


Healthy buildings have happiness as a point of origin: they're built with the tenant's happiness and well-being in mind, and at the same time with happiness as a goal. This means that, fundamentally, healthy buildings need to be human-centric from the start.


For example, when creating healthy buildings for schools it is crucial to look at solutions and practices that ensure a healthy level of air quality, energy, and light, but it is just as crucial to evaluate what children need in their day-to-day to be healthy. Based on this, healthy buildings for schools should also have equipment and spaces that will provide children with access to healthy food, space for movement, and space for discovery. 


Therefore, healthy buildings need to be built or designed with a holistic approach in mind, with solutions that can be easily integrated with each other, and with a human touch in the development process. Otherwise, there is a risk of leaving out important factors, such as the examples mentioned above for the school.


How to deal with the ambiguity surrounding the term healthy building?

A great way to deal with ambiguity and to motivate corporates, real estate owners, governments, and SMEs is by showing them real examples of healthy buildings. It is easier to understand the benefits of healthy buildings when it’s possible to see what a healthy building does, what it looks like, how it feels like, and how people inside of the building feel like. Therefore, tours and visits to these types of buildings were highly recommended.

It was also mentioned that mostly SMEs and commercial real estate, benefit a lot from seeing how a healthy building has a direct impact on the business. So, focusing on both, long-term and short-term health, financial and operational results could be a way to make the healthy building movement more attractive.

How does health financially affect businesses and governments?


Let’s reflect on the scenarios that were presented during the conference.


  • With more and more buildings being transformed into healthy buildings, older, non-certified buildings have started losing value. On average, non-certified buildings lose 7.7% of their value when compared to similar healthy buildings.
  • People working inside buildings with bad ventilation tend to suffer from more diseases and health concerns. Therefore, it can be argued that a healthier indoor environment would reduce the frequency of sick leave, directly benefitting both the employees and the businesses. In consequence, this would also benefit the healthcare system in the long term. 
  • A good level of indoor air quality seems to have an impact on creativity. With creativity being one of the key success skills of the future, companies might be missing out on innovative ideas and creative solutions due to bad air quality. 
  • Children at school seem to have worse performance on their tests when there is bad ventilation in the classrooms. A low performance could have a negative impact on the future of the children in different ways. For example, children might be rejected from higher levels of education, or they might have difficulties finding a job later on, which would have a negative impact on the government.
These are only a few examples discussed during the conference, but if you're interested in knowing more, you might want to check our full article about “11 mind-boggling healthy building stats”.


What are the future trends and how to catch on to them?

In order to ensure that topics such as indoor air quality and healthy buildings are prioritized, they must align with the market trends and the businesses’ goals, which is why it is so important to take a look at the upcoming trends.

According to one of the latest studies from JLL, companies right now are prioritizing topics like remote working, hybrid working solutions, in-office collaboration technologies, and workplace experience apps. Of course, all of these topics make a lot of sense after COVID-19. However, the research shows that the focus will shift from these topics to more well-being and health-oriented trends that aim to create a long-term human-centric strategy.

According to the research, businesses are more likely to plan their strategies and investments in the upcoming years around sustainable goals, environmental control, health tech solutions, and well-being solutions. Hence, offering great opportunities for businesses to start working toward healthier solutions.

Are you ready to innovate in your field and start transforming your building into a healthy building? We’re ready to help you with it.




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