FM newsroom – healthy buildings. We spend 90% of our lives indoors, so building health and well-being really matters. Additionally, healthy buildings can be considered a win-win situation as they use energy more sustainably while promoting productivity. They are also a competitive advantage as buildings in which people feel well and safe are easier to rent out and bring better earnings.
Within the last three years, the number of buildings which are certified as “healthy buildings” has increased immensely. The trends of flexibility, digitalization and automation have been influencing the design and management of buildings and added a clear objective to improve the health and well-being of building occupants. These days, the avoidance of “sick building syndrome”—acute health or comfort-related effects linked to time spent in a building—as well as the protection of people with allergies are key.
But what exactly is a healthy building?
Henning Sandfort, CEO of Building Products at Siemens Smart Infrastructure claims that research highlights nine aspects when defining a healthy building: lighting, ventilation, air quality, water quality, thermal health, moisture, noise, dust and pests, safety and security.
The expert also points out that not only does health play an essential role, but also reducing the carbon footprint of a building is a major challenge for the sector. The latest governmental regulations are adding pressure to transform buildings to become more sustainable and energy efficient. One of them is the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which is also expected to make measuring indoor air quality mandatory.
Healthy buildings are technology-based buildings
Technology solutions are manifold for the transformation towards healthy buildings, ranging from lighting, heating and cooling, and ventilation to safety and security. According to Stanfort, the following three levels are of relevance.
Real-time monitoring keeps track of the status quo of various building parameters. Trusted data sources like accurate Internet of Things (IoT) sensors with secure connections and access to safe, trusted cloud offerings build the basis for this. The sensors can be placed in rooms or ducts transporting air or water and thus can give a full picture of the actual state of the parameters.
Real-time operational technology (OT) data should be enriched with third-party data, such as weather forecasts. Different kinds of usage patterns can be tracked depending on days or seasons.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms can learn from the patterns of each building and create the most efficient solution tailored to the individual usage profile. IoT automation and AI-based cloud applications help to connect, digitize and optimize building management solutions.
Implementing AI with a human-centric approach
In general, building operators need to strike the right balance between AI-optimized building automation and individual people’s needs—e.g., blinds might lower automatically when the sun comes out, yet some might love to see a bit of sunshine. Thus, when implementing AI, it is vital to adopt a human-centric approach – Stanfort points out. People using and operating buildings need to feel confident about the space’s condition and functionality in use.
We spend most of our lives indoors, so building health and well-being really matters. Additionally, healthy buildings can be considered a win-win situation as they use energy more sustainably while promoting productivity. Ultimately, they are also a competitive advantage for building owners and operators as buildings in which people feel well and safe are easier to rent out and bring better earnings.