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CANADIAN ARCHITECT 08/16

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HEALTHY BUILDING SYNDROME TEXT

Kaitlyn Gillis and Dak Kopec

ARCHITECTS CAN BE BETTER EQUIPPED TO DESIGN HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS WITH THE HELP OF EMERGING TOOLS, SUCH AS THE WELL BUILDING STANDARD AND RESEARCH FROM ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. Canadians spend over 90 percent of their time indoors—either in buildings or in transit between them. While that’s been acknowledged by the design sector for some time, the health impact of spending so much time indoors has been relatively neglected. An emerging design trend is taking a hard look at how the built environment informs the health and wellbeing of building occupants. As a large and culturally diverse country with an emphasis on social justice, Canada has the potential to become a global leader in this health and wellbeing movement. International Agencies Numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Victoria, are developing graduate level programs that specif ically focus on human health as part of the design process. Coinciding with these educational programs is the establishment of the WELL building standard in 2014. The WELL building standard follows USGBC designations and credentialing processes established for sustainability, but a different organization, the International WELL Building Institute, administers it. Designers can seek the WELL Accredited Profes-

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ABOVE Natural light and views are optimized within CBRE Group’s offices in Vancouver, which were designed by Perkins+Will to adhere to the WELL building standard.

sional credential ( WELL AP), and buildings can achieve various levels of certif ication—from Silver to Platinum. The certification criteria focus on human biology and psychology, and the effect of the built environment in facilitating healthy experiences. The standard is presented through seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Points are assigned for over a hundred features that can have a positive impact on 11 bodily networks, from the endocrine to the muscular system. For example, achieving the requirements of effective ventilation design would benefit the cardiovascular, nervous and respiratory systems. The WELL standard is premised on the World Health Organization’s definition of health as the optimal physical, psychological and sociological state of an individual—and not simply as the absence of disease or infirmity. This comprehensive definition has been around since 1948, but our practical conceptualization of health often remains centered on illness and injury. In every moment of life, humans are in an environment, whether it is natural or built. At all of these moments, there’s an opportunity to positively impact people’s health through design.

2016-07-29 10:09 AM

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Canadian Architect August 2016  

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...

Canadian Architect August 2016  

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada’s only monthly design publication, Ca...