Is Your Building Making You Sick?

Building owners and HR departments have a lot to gain by taking tenant health into consideration.

Feeling a little run down? Finding excuses not to go to the office? It may not be your job or your boss that is keeping you away. It might be what your building is doing to you.

A study by Dodge Data & Analytics, a research firm for the construction industry, reveals that the health of people who occupy a building is often influenced by where and how a building is situated, how it’s made and how it is maintained.

Negative effects of buildings can range from subtle to physically debilitating. For example, aesthetics ignored in a workspace, like the absence of art or indoor plants, may cause someone to feel less at home, or to just not love their workplace. The presence of a gym or company cafeteria would swing the mood in a more positive way. Adding daylight also helps. A poor choice of construction material could cause outgassing or improper airflow that may actually make people sick.

While architects can certainly take advantage of such findings, Dodge is hoping that they will also share this data with HR departments. Being aware of how a company’s workforce is more likely to jump out of bed to start their day in your building, rather than find excuses to avoid it, is bound to add points to your proposed design.

Dodge shows that while three-quarters of all building owners would like to see better employee and tenant satisfaction, the ratios of architects is pretty close behind (68 percent). But half of the contractors surveyed couldn’t be bothered with it, and interior designers care even less (41 percent).

But Dodge finds that site owners have seen improvements in employee and tenant satisfaction and have seen a medium improvement in satisfaction 78 percent of the time. Also, they have seen a high level of improvement where building health was initially considered. 

Dodge, famous for drawing and presenting data on construction projects, is helping to make a science of a building’s influence on human health, and is partnering with Armstrong (makers of ceiling fans), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), NARIEM, the World Green Building Council, and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

Click here to download this report.