As society advances and governments encourage their populations to live healthier lifestyles, the onus is on developers to make their properties friendlier towards our fitness as well as the environment.
The World Health Organisation claims that, on average, we spend around 90% of our time indoors. We should therefore invest to ensure air quality and other factors, such as water supply and heating, contribute positively to our well-being. The same can be said for the ergonomic design of buildings that encourage greater levels of physical fitness as well as a healthy state of mind.
This all sounds rather grand and appears on the surface like a ‘nice-to-have’. But there are compelling financial reasons, as well as strategic ones, for improving the quality of our indoor built environments.
Valuable in more ways than one
Our concern over indoor air quality and other health factors is nothing new. As far back as 1984, the industry was investigating claims of so-called ‘sick building syndrome’, which saw occupants suffering health problems due to poor ventilation and inadequate heating systems.
However, building regulations have tightened up since then and priorities are shifting; Property Week highlighted ‘health and well-being’ as being a major industry trend to look out for in 2018.
In a world where fewer workers are office-bound than in the past, employers are mindful of how they use their real estate to maximise productivity. They also seek to effect a positive atmosphere to sustain morale and attract the best talent. That means being creative with their use of space and promoting an environment that is safe and clean to work in.
Naturally, this also has a positive impact on the value of a property. The quality of building ‘intelligence’ and the occupant’s ability to control the indoor environment means the sale price increases, which makes this issue is of particular interest to investors. In any case, an energy-efficient building is certainly more valuable than an inefficient one.
How to create a healthy indoor built environment
The EPC – the standardised measure of energy efficiency in a building – is a regulatory requirement. Whilst a cost-effective way of starting the conversation on improving energy performance, it does have its limits. For example, the EPC does not take account of the indoor air quality at all.
If you want to increase the quality of the indoor environment, in either a new-build or existing building, you should appoint an energy performance expert to undertake a specialist assessment. They will measure factors such as ambient temperatures and levels of various gases – such as CO2, CO, SO2, hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, pathogens and so on. The assessor will advise on how best to design the building, along with the most suitable equipment to install, to maximise the health benefits for occupants.
Landlords and investors have so far held back on innovating design or improvements that address health issues. This may be because they don’t yet see significant returns on investment or consider such a venture too risky.
However, with new technology making a healthy indoor environment an attractive prospect, those responsible for developing, managing and investing in properties will be forced to take note.
Murton & Co specialise in maximising the energy efficiency of properties. We have the experience and expertise to address specific needs in the design and improvement of buildings. Contact us to find out more.