The average person spends up to 90 per cent of their life indoors. Or looked at another way: buildings have a major influence on our health, productivity and ability to enjoy some rest and recuperation. The DGNB has recently written a new report showing how to arrange the planning, building and operational aspects of a building in such a way that it promotes human well-being and even takes individual requirements into consideration.
Buildings fulfil a broad variety of functions that are important to people when they use them. We live in buildings, learn and work in them, and of course meet up and interact with our fellow human beings in them. We seek refuge from external influences and use buildings as places of rest and recuperation. That provides plenty of reasons for owners and planners to see buildings in more than a functional capacity as a place we spend time in. They’re environments in themselves, places that revolve around people.
There are many factors dictating how plans should be translated into a building that allows its occupants to take a central role. They are so integral to sustainability that the DGNB has always addressed these through a wide variety of criteria in its certification system. The recently published report, Liveable & fit for the future – People as the centre of sustainable construction, pulls all of these factors together, using them as a starting point for determining why they are so tremendously important for the future viability of the world we build around ourselves. The report examines the role played by people within the context of a built environment, not only highlighting the different factors that influence health and well-being, but also introducing strategies and possible approaches that can be adopted by building owners, architects and planners.
Checklist: how to turn the spotlight on people during planning
For those who haven’t got time to go through the entire 32-page report for now, the DGNB has pulled together some of the most important titbits in a checklist. If building owners and architects can add a tick next to these 13 items for their developments, they’re certainly off to a good start:
- Have I asked the building users at an early stage about their personal preferences and taken these into account during planning?
- Have I, wherever possible, considered using lowest pollutant risk-free materials and building products?
- When implementing the building, was it made sure that a demonstrably high interior air quality is provided?
- Is the building designed in such a way that users can adapt it to their own needs or new requirements, with as little effort or outlay as possible?
- Can occupants adjust the conditions in the room to match their individual preferences, e.g. regarding temperature and light?
- Does the building offer suitable levels of comfort in terms of temperature, in both the colder and warmer seasons?
- Is there sufficient daylight in the places people spend most of their time in, without too much glare?
- Are the rooms acoustically optimised to ensure people are not disturbed by echoes when working, studying or going about other activities?
- Are people offered plenty of variety in terms of areas to spend time in, not just inside but also outside the building, so they can feel more comfortable and enjoy socialising with others?
- Can all people make equal use of the building, irrespective of their individual physical abilities?
- Do people feel safe in or around the building and are they free to move around?
- Are there incentives for people to choose between different travel options, also in ways that promote health and are good for the environment?
- Do I provide building occupants with tips on using the building sustainably and staying healthy?