The quality of life experienced within buildings is as important as the metrics around energy and material use. Buildings have long been viewed as foes to human health, circulating stale air in sealed environments that cut off occupants from the outside world. And yet well-designed buildings have the power to also enhance health. The World Health Organization even cites the workplace as a key avenue for health promotion.
A building’s impact on the environment often points to its impact on the people who use it. Green buildings that strive to conserve energy and water with minimal waste often create healthier indoor environments, too. Developers use low-emitting materials, natural lighting, and systems that encourage natural air flow. At the same time, sensors on buildings and those worn by people can provide more data on the environment’s health impact. Initiatives like the WELL Building Standard also create benchmarks in designing for human health that include clean air and water to design that fosters physical and mental comfort.
The health impact of workplace design is evolving as we redefine work. Mixed use facilities that blur the lines between home and work can encourage physical activity and play. Bike lockers and office gyms incentivise activity while outdoor space can reduce workplace stress. As with cities, the workplace has indivisible from the community in which it operates. How a building is integrated into the transportation network or natural environment can impact health and our own sense of harmony. Some impacts of workplace design are simply hard to measure. The economic and spatial vitality of a city is often evident in the vitality of its people. They feel connected and empowered by their space.
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- Green buildings that focus on environmental impact create healthier environments because of improved air, safer materials, and conscientious design
- “Clustered” or campus buildings encourage walking and human movement instead of mechanized devices as a way of moving around
Macquarie, One Shelley Street
Macquarie Bank’s One Shelley Street is currently adopting the WELL Building Standard as a global benchmark for workplace projects. This includes a comprehensive approach to human sustainability in workplace design addressing behavior, operations and design through seven key components including air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Meeting spaces are destinations with identity, more like a city and less like ‘rooms on a floor’ The transparency of the workplace encourages human interaction. The boundary between the ground plane of the city and the floor plate is blurred.