We spend 90% of our time in buildings, either at work or at home. The world’s environmental challenges dictate that these buildings need to be sustainable ecosystems in themselves, but they should also foster our health and well-being, enhancing productivity and quality of life.
Improving buildings through smart design or renovation is a relatively easy way to have a major impact on our health, quality of life, and the environment, and it’s an investment which remains implicit in a building’s value.
People spend the majority of their time inside buildings. In fact, we spend up to 90% of our time living, working, learning and playing indoors. One major problem in European buildings is damp, which can lead to the growth of mould, and a rise in associated illnesses such as asthma. Around 16% of Europeans currently live in damp or mouldy dwellings, and this poses a major challenge for the health and well-being of society.
“We currently spend around €82 billion each year on asthma treatment in Europe, and our productivity at work can rise by up to 15% if the indoor environment has adequate daylight, temperature and air quality. So, there’s a clear incentive to reconsider how we shape our homes, schools and offices”
Peter Foldbjerg, Head of VELUX Group’s Knowledge Center
Indoor climate is a collective designation of the environmental factors that affect us when we are indoors – air, humidity, heat, light, noise, smoke and particles and chemicals found in the home.
The indoor climate in homes, schools and offices is closely related to our comfort, well-being and health indoors. Fresh air, comfortable temperatures and acceptable acoustics are inseparably linked to a good indoor climate.
We have an increasing understanding of how a good indoor climate can contribute to healthy buildings that improve well-being and productivity. At the same time, substantial evidence on how e.g. dampness, overheating and lack of fresh air can lead to diseases like asthma and allergies, as well as loss of productivity.
Understanding how the indoor climate impacts human health and well-being is vital for the design of new buildings as well as choosing the right measures when existing buildings are renovated. Windows, sun screening and natural ventilation are key components to achieve a good indoor environment.
Daylight is essential for sustainable urban development and is an important factor to consider when designing buildings and shaping our cities, offices and homes. Daylight helps to balance our 24-hour Circadian - or bodily - rhythm, and is vital to our general health and well-being. Nevertheless, buildings often do not always make optimal use of daylight.
“Daylight is not being used anywhere near as much as it should be in buildings. Schools in particular have become security tanks for children ... Bringing lighting and daylight back into buildings is important. We have the technology”
Philip Allsopp Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University