Entire industries and companies have gotten on the “green” bandwagon by supporting technologies that minimize impact on the environment. In the past 10 years, we have seen the emergence of green buildings, which help the environment by using less energy and water.
Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have conducted an analysis of these structures to see just how good they are for the people who live and work in them as well.
Green buildings have begun flourishing around the world. According to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a group that certifies green building standards, over 69,000 green buildings have been certified in 150 countries.
Remarkable health benefits
Although we know that they have a greatly reduced environmental impact, the amount that they benefit the people that use them is remarkable. "Overall, the initial scientific evidence indicates better indoor environmental quality in green buildings versus non-green buildings, with direct benefits to human health for occupants of those buildings,” said Dr. Joseph Allen, who led the Harvard research team.
The researchers reported that people who live or work in green buildings are generally more satisfied with environmental conditions. The air quality is superior when compared to other buildings, and they do not require as much maintenance due to stricter guidelines that are followed during construction.
These benefits translate into better physical and mental health for occupants. Professionals who work in green buildings report that they are more productive and more likely to stay employed at the company using the space.
Green buildings that are used as hospitals also provide many benefits to patients and staff. Research shows that fewer patients die in these hospitals, the quality of care is higher, and there are fewer blood stream infections that occur, possibly due to superior interior conditions.
Dr. Allen and his team are continuing to gather data on green buildings to fully explore their health benefits. They hope to implement sensors in some buildings in order to gather more objective data on how they affect occupants’ health. Their full study has been published in the journal Current Environmental Health Reports.