The built environment: Its role in improving health and well-being

Commentary, Online Exclusive Feature / 2021

The built environment: Its role in improving health and well-being

by Rachel Gutter, President, International WELL Building Institute

February 3, 2021

Twenty-five years ago, the advent of Green building created a brand new market. Today, this industry is worth a trillion dollars worldwide.

The stipulations about energy and water efficiency as well as waste and greenhouse gas reduction that underpin every building certification have been widely accepted as best practice across the globe.

Health and well-being must be integrated into a broader systems change approach towards buildings and cities—alongside net-zero carbon and energy efficiency targets—if we are to accelerate the transition to a healthy and sustainable future.

Image courtesy of SAHACHATZ/Shutterstock.com.
See commentary from The Future of Cities: Sustainability’s Deceptive Dream by Dr Nikos A. Salingaros

Building on an existing market infrastructure and an advanced sustainability movement, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) strongly advocates that there’s no choice to be made between planetary health and human health. At scale, the two are inextricable.

This makes it all the more clear that climate change is a human health issue in many ways: from the human costs of the natural disasters that are becoming more severe; and changes in agricultural output and the related water crisis; to the way a warming planet contributes to disease emergence.

The ‘second wave of sustainability’ we are seeing now focuses on human performance, and must build on top of the first wave that focused primarily on building performance.

Organisations, too, are recognising that people are their greatest asset.

Companies increasingly understanding how design, construction and operation decisions—complemented by policies, programmes and protocols—can positively contribute to their employees’ health, happiness, satisfaction and productivity.

Public space with human dimensions will attract use (TRAVEL TAKE PHOTOS/Shutterstock.com)

READ: The Future of Cities: Sustainability’s Deceptive Dream by Dr Nikos A. Salingaros


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