Archive for the ‘Human Health and Wellness’ Category

Explore the Built Environment’s Impact on Human Health at Two Upcoming Events

The way in which our environment is constructed determines how we interact with it. Some features have obvious impacts. If our workspace is designed for primarily sedentary work, opportunities for movement will be limited. Health risks reported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) associated with a sedentary lifestyle include obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among others.

Other building features impact our health less obviously. Often we take the air we breathe and the water we drink for granted. Pollution can affect air quality outdoors and indoors, and having access to clean water is a world public health issue. Poor air quality indoors can lead to respiratory illnesses and sick building syndrome (SBS), where poor building quality has an accumulative negative impact on human health. Access to high quality water is essential for human health and functioning as it transports nutrients throughout the body and regulates homeostasis. Creating an environment that promotes healthy food options and does not make poor quality foods available is also important for physical and mental health. Moreover, proper lighting is essential for preventing headaches and promoting natural body patterns of wakefulness.

The USGBC-MGC is hosting two upcoming events centered on human health and the built environment. On June 28th Monica Miller, ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s Sustainable Design Manager, will educate participants about the WELL Building Standard, a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring key features of the built environment’s effect on the health of those inside. This course will prepare attendees for the WELL Accredited Professional Exam to earn the WELL AP credential. This credential signifies a comprehensive understanding of human health in relation to the built environment and of the WELL Building Standard. Click here to register online!

The second event, hosted on July 10th, will feature speaker Josh Jacobs, the Director of Environmental Codes & Standards for UL Environment. The event will analysis wellness criteria in programs such as LEED and Fitwel, and provide tips on how to incorporate wellness into green building projects. Click here to register online!

When designing workspaces it is crucial to consider the individuals living, working, and learning inside in order to create a comfortable, productive atmosphere. Sustainable planning considers environmental impact and human equity. Join the USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter to gain practical knowledge on the built environment’s impact on human and organizational health.

WELL AP Exam Prep

Thursday, June 28, 2018

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Professional Office Environments, Inc. (POE)
222 Millwell Drive, St. Louis, MO 63043


WELL AP Exam Preparation Guide, 2nd Edition, International WELL Building Institute, available for purchase here.

$200 for USGBC-MGC Members
$250 for Non-members

Fee does not include required texts or exam fees.
Fee includes continental breakfast and lunch.

Click here to register online!


Health and Wellbeing in Green Building

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
5:30-6:15 pm – Registration & Networking
6:15-7:30 pm – Formal Presentation

Please note, the speaker will present a seminar on SPOT, UL’s Sustainable Product Database, immediately prior to the evening program. More details on the SPOT seminar available here.

Alberici Headquarters
8800 Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63114

Free for USGBC-MGC Members & Full-Time Students
$20 for Non-Members

1 LEED Specific (BD+C, O+M) GBCI CE Hour
1 WELL CE Hour

Click here to register online!


Green Buildings Are Better – Health

Guest post by John May, author of

Green buildings have better indoor environmental qualities, and deliver direct health benefits to those who work in them or live in them.

Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. Indoor environments with low air circulation can concentrate pollutants 2 to 5 times higher than in outdoor air. Contaminants found in indoor air include organic compounds (e.g. formaldehyde, pesticide, fire retardant), microbes (e.g. bacteria, mold), inorganic gases (e.g. ozone, carbon monoxide, radon), and particulate matter (second-hand smoke, dust, smoke from fires).

Building-related illnesses include infections (e.g. Legionnaire’s disease), headache, nausea, nasal and chest congestion, wheezing, eye problems, sore throat, fatigue, chills and fever, muscle pain, neurological symptoms, and dry skin. That’s quite a list, and it should be apparent that indoor environmental quality is very important to health and well-being.

Green buildings have better indoor environmental qualities, and deliver direct health benefits to those who work in them or live in them, according to a review conducted in 2015. The review looked at 17 different studies of the relationship between green buildings and health. Green buildings had lower levels of volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, allergens, nitrous oxide, smoke, and particulate matter.

The improved indoor environmental quality translated to improved self-reported health outcomes, and improved self-reported productivity. Only one study used objective health outcome metrics, but it is instructive. Thiel et al compared results at a children’s hospital in Pittsburgh before and after it moved from a non-green to a green facility. After the move, there was less employee turnover and open positions filled faster. Blood stream infection rates declined 70% and the number of corrections that had to be made to medical records declined 49%. Not only that, but patient mortality was expected to be 11% higher after the move, because the case load became more severe. However, the green hospital actually had a 19% decrease in patient mortality.

In a more traditional office setting, 263 employees were studied before and after they moved from a non-green building to a green one. After moving, they reported a 56% decrease in absences due to asthma and respiratory allergies, a 49% decrease in absences due to depression and stress, and an improvement in productivity (productivity was measured using an index that does not lend itself to a numerical comparison of before and after).

Thus, the data look promising for green buildings. At the same time, confounding factors could explain some of the improvements observed, and the fact that many studies used self-report data suggests that caution should be used in interpreting the studies. Studies using more objective data are needed.

What about the financial performance of green buildings? The next post will explore that.

Visit MoGreenStats, a blog exploring Missouri’s environmental statistics, to read more analysis of environmental statistics and reports. 


Allen, Joseph, Piers MacNaughton, Jose Laurent, Skye Flanigan, Erika Eitland, and John Spengler. 2015. “Green Buildings and Health.” Current Environmental Health Report. Downloaded 7/9/2017 from

Singh, Amanjeet, Matt Syal, Sue Grady, and Sinem Korkmaz. 2010. “Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity.”

Thiel, C.L., Needy, K.L., Ries, R.J., Hupp, D., Bilec, M.M. (2014). “Building Design and Performance: A Comparative Longitudinal Assessment of a Children’s Hospital.” Building and the Environment. 78, August 2014, 130–136.
American Journal of Public Health. 1665-1668. Downloaded 7/9/2017 from

U.S. Institute of Medicine. 2007. Green Healthcare Institutions: Health, Environment, and Economics: Workshop Summary, Chapter 4. The Health Aspects of Green Buildings. National Academies Press. Viewed online 6/10/2017 at