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CaGBC releases report on healthy building design and construction


September 22, 2016
by Canadian Architect

A Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and Dodge Data & Analytics report released titled Healthier Buildings in Canada 2016: Transforming Building Design and Construction is revealing new information about the factors influencing Canada’s building owners, architects, designers, contractors and public health professionals in their decisions for adopting healthier building practices and features.

Among its key findings, the report shows that business benefits are driving investments in healthier buildings. Nearly half of the Canadian commercial building owners surveyed (46 per cent) say they are able to lease space more quickly in buildings with healthy features, and of the owners that report they see a positive impact on the value of their buildings with healthier practices, over one third (38 per cent) see an increase of seven per cent or more.

When asked to rank the top goals for having healthier buildings, owners surveyed ranked improved tenant/employee satisfaction with the building (79 per cent) and happier and healthier building occupants (66 per cent) as their top two choices, showing that occupant comfort is also growing in consideration for owners and operators in Canada.

The study also demonstrates how green building rating systems like LEED v4 are driving design and construction practices, demand for products and materials that are more sustainable, and that make occupant health and well-being a top priority. To measure uptake in the Canadian market, the study asked participants to list their most commonly-used sustainable products, materials and design approaches. The top healthy building feature was improved indoor lighting conditions and daylighting, with 80 per cent of all respondents incorporating this feature. Rounding out the top three most popular features included, are products that enhance thermal comfort with 77 per cent, and enhanced indoor air quality with 75 per cent.

“Over the last ten years we’ve seen a big shift in emphasis on reducing the environmental impacts of buildings and enhancing occupant health and wellness,” says Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the CaGBC. “With the arrival of the more demanding LEED version 4, the building construction industry is poised to pursue even healthier, more sustainable options. I am pleased to see that the Healthier Buildings in Canada report confirms that Canadian owners are noticing how healthier building practices can benefit their bottom line.”

In addition to owners and designers, the study also surveyed public health professionals, and found that they are valuable allies in promoting healthier building research in Canada. The highest percentage (43 per cent) of those surveyed rank lower healthcare costs among the top three outcomes they expect from greater consideration of occupant health and well-being during design and construction. In addition, more than half of health professionals that participated recognize a wide range of building features and practices that influence the health of building occupants, suggesting they can be effective partners in efforts to promote greater public awareness of these connections.

“The increased attention to building health impacts is just beginning,” says Stephen A. Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights at Dodge Data & Analytics. “In a similar way several years ago, companies engaged in green construction because of the demonstrable business and financial benefits they were able to achieve. The findings of this report demonstrate that the focus on buildings that enhance the health and well-being of their occupants is likely to follow a similar trajectory, boosted by those who have committed to sustainability in their organizations.”

The report was commissioned by the CaGBC as a subset of a larger North American focused report also released titled, The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016: Tactical Intelligence to Transform Building Design and Construction SmartMarket Report.

To download the full study and to read about CaGBC’s ongoing Advocacy work, visit cagbc.org/advocacy. As a part of its ongoing health and wellness strategy, CaGBC is also offering a variety of one-hour webinars and in-class courses beginning this fall, including Healthy Environments: Furniture Leading the Way, and The Relationship between LEED v4 and WELL.To find out more and to register now visit cagbc.org/courseregistration.