Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time inside, making indoor air quality and lighting critical to their health, comfort and productivity. A study led by Piers MacNaughton from Harvard University supports this claim, reporting that green-certified buildings can improve occupant health and cognitive function.
MacNaughton’s team looked at 10 high-performing buildings in five cities across the US, and found occupants in green certified environments scored 26 percent higher on cognitive function tests. The same occupants experienced 30 percent fewer symptoms of sick building syndrome and recorded 6 percent higher sleep quality scores than those in non-green certified buildings.
The study supports the idea that air quality, lighting and temperature control should be a top priority when designing, constructing and maintaining healthy buildings.
This is exactly what Johnson Controls did when it constructed and expanded four high-performance buildings at its corporate campus in Glendale, Wisconsin. The buildings incorporate technologies that minimize their environmental impact while supporting productivity. This means installing geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic energy, under-floor heating and cooling, safety management, skylights and bigger windows to increase the amount of natural light. The company has also led a wide range of green building projects that incorporate similar technologies, from schools and universities to hospitals and sports stadiums, all with a focus on the health of both the building and its occupants.
Tips to improve the healthcare environment
A healthcare facility doesn’t have to be green or LEED certified to ensure comfort and productive healing. In fact, making routine maintenance a bigger priority is a great first step towards healthier hospitals capable of providing the best possible patient care.
For example, keeping HVAC system components clean and functioning — like fans, motors, louvers, controls, filters, and ducts — helps maximize air quality and improve temperature, pressure and humidity control. To ensure these tasks remain priority, leading healthcare facilities are integrating smart building management systems that automatically alert staff about maintenance schedules.
In addition to mechanical systems, lighting offers unique benefits for healthier hospitals. In areas like emergency rooms, nurseries, surgical suites and patient rooms, research shows that installing LED lighting can aid in infection control and speed the healing process. As a bonus, LED lights are highly energy efficient.
To promote healthier and more efficient environments among your healthcare staff, register your facility for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Energy to Care program. The program provides free energy benchmarking and awards for healthcare facilities that provide value to their organizations through energy savings. Users can compare their energy reduction efforts to those of similar nearby facilities and challenge each other to greater achievements.
By combining energy efficiency initiatives with the above tips to improve building environments, healthcare organizations can create better facilities that contribute to more positive patient outcomes.
To read more about the Harvard study, click here.
Fawn joined Johnson Controls in October 2016 as director of healthcare, bringing more than 25 years of experience in the building solutions industry. She directs the Johnson Controls strategy for growing the healthcare market across North America.