Study: Renovated buildings = healthier people

Comprehensive study from Buildings2030 details the impact of improved indoor environmental quality on people’s health and productivity.

Patient, nurse, hospital, healthcare

From recovery times for patients to the learning abilities of school children to the productivity of office workers, the value of improving indoor environmental quality (light, noise, thermal comfort, air quality) is substantial, according to a new study from Buildings 2030, titled “People-Centric Buildings for European Citizens”.

A lot of research has been done on the separate components of indoor environment for the health, wellbeing and productivity of people, but this study puts them all together”, says Susanne Dyrbøl, Public Affairs Director at ROCKWOOL Group. “Having that comprehensive view, even if some gaps in our knowledge still remain, makes it much easier for everyone—politicians, architects, home owners—to understand, explain and quantify the benefits to people that come with renovation”. 

Renovating buildings is a critical weapon in the fight against climate change, as buildings account for nearly 30 percent of global energy consumption and emissions. Studies like this one illustrate the wider socio-economic impacts of renovation. 

To scale up ambition on renovation we need to start counting the benefits in health, wellbeing and performance alongside energy cost savings when evaluating building projects. This study quantifies these societal benefits of improving the quality of the indoor environment”, says Dyrbøl.

The research for the study, conducted by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), is based on a review of more than 400 academic articles, dozens of case studies and expert interviews focusing on health, wellbeing and productivity in buildings. 

According to BPIE, the study is the first step in defining, measuring and monetising the impact of four key elements of indoor environmental quality (indoor air quality, thermal comfort, lighting and noise) on students, office workers and patients across Europe. 

When these four elements are optimised—what BPIE calls “people-centric renovation”—people’s health and productivity increase. Some key findings from the study include:

  • Up to a 12 percent increase in employee productivity at a typical office, which on a European scale, could be worth up to EUR 500 billion annually
  • Between 3-8 percent improvement in student performance
    • Improved acoustics alone can increase learning performance with 3-6 percent
  • Reduced length of patient hospital stays by as much as 11 percent 
  • Reduced employee turnover by up to 20 percent.
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