News article

How to invest strategically in buildings for people

Whether you are working from a commercial office, school or hospital, the buildings we inhabit have a huge impact on our wellbeing.
Personal Comfort
Room Control
31 May 2022

Inadequate lighting, poor thermal comfort and lack of ventilation can all affect people’s productivity, but the opposite is also true. Well-designed buildings - with optimised heating, air quality and lighting – have the power to nourish us and enhance our performance.

Ultimately, healthier spaces mean healthier people, and this has commercial benefits for businesses too. A World Green Building Council report, Building the Business Case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Green Offices, found that investments including improved air quality, natural light and greenery can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, staff turnover and even medical costs.

Here are four ways to invest in buildings, to support people, performance and productivity… 

1. Ventilation

We breathe 15,000 litres of air every day, and the quality of that air affects us far more than we realise. According to the World Green Building Council report, a well-ventilated office can double cognitive ability, while a study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health linked lower ventilation rates with slower reactions and reduced accuracy. Optimal ventilation and filtration are vital for reducing the indoor transmission of airborne viruses, too. 

So, how do we manage air quality? While natural ventilation may suffice in a smaller office, powered ventilation systems are a worthwhile investment. They enable the air quality to be closely monitored and controlled, ensuring it is supporting productivity, health and wellbeing.  

2. Thermal comfort

Most of us have experienced feeling irritable when we are exposed to excessive heat or chill, but in the workplace the temperature also affects our productivity. Staff performance can fall by up to 6% if an office is too hot and by 4% if it is too cold, plus discomfort inevitably increases our stress levels too.  

In contrast, employees thrive when they have control over their own personal comfort. And Cloud-based climate management systems, like Priva’s Buildium Comfort Management, enable exactly that. Employees and managers can make their space warmer or cooler in an instant, at the touch of a button on a smartphone. Cloud-based systems make even more economic sense in this new era of hybrid working too. If a building is only half occupied, that’s no problem – the facilities manager can simply control the building remotely, shutting down the redundant systems and making the spaces that are in use more comfortable.

The secrets to a healthy, happy, and productive space

Take the first step toward a workplace where people's health and well-being are at the center of design.

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3. Lighting

What if you were offered a healthy supplement that could help you feel less stressed, more alert and enable you to sleep better? It is possible that light can have all these benefits. In fact, research suggests that it is crucial for wellbeing. While poor lighting is linked to eyestrain, headaches and even fatigue, a good lighting system can stimulate our brains and body clocks too. It is even thought that a well-lit workspace can improve sleep. One  study, by the General Services Administration, showed that employees who were exposed to bright light between 8am and noon fell asleep faster at night and slept for around 20 minutes longer. And of course, an employee who is well-rested is likely to be more productive too.  

Ideally, every building would benefit from plenty of natural light, but human-centric LED systems are a worthy investment. They can be adjusted in colour and intensity throughout the day, closely replicating daylight. When workers want to feel alert and stimulated, they can adjust them to a brighter, cooler temperature. Conversely, when a calmer, more relaxing atmosphere is required, they can be set to a warmer temperature. By cleverly working in harmony with people’s daily rhythms, these systems support wellbeing.  

4. Nature-inspired design

Biophilia has become a buzzword in the design industry, and for good reason. Incorporating experiences of nature into the built environment can have a dramatic effect on wellbeing, including reduced stress, improved cognitive function and enhanced creativity. These natural elements can include everything from living plants to organic materials, such as granite, timber and wool. Research shows that even images of nature and natural sounds – like a water feature – can lower the heart rate, while natural colours like greens and blues are believed to be soothing too.  

Whether human-centric lighting, nature-inspired design or a climate management system is the right step for you, these investments all put wellbeing at the heart of our buildings. Creating spaces where people can thrive has tangible benefits for performance, productivity and profit too.  


Do you have any questions? Lets have a chat!

Bill Whittaker

Business Development Manager

Bill Whittaker