Public health initiatives continue to be top-of-mind for businesses large and small throughout a global pandemic. Many companies are introducing “healthy buildings” to reinforce their commitment to a cleaner, healthier and safer work environment for employees and customers, even beyond COVID-19.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that we spend about 90% of our time indoors, where pollutant levels are often higher than outside. Exposure to indoor air pollution can cause both immediate and long-term health effects, such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. By focusing on healthier indoor environments, we can mitigate the spread of sickness and disease while strengthening cognitive performance.
Healthy Building Practices
It’s important to take a holistic approach to understanding how buildings can impact the people inside of them. Here are some of the ways you can make sure you’re providing your employees with a safe and healthy workspace:
It’s important that you have a good flow of outdoor air entering your building to offset indoor air chemicals, odors and other pollutants that can accumulate and cause health issues for workers. Ensure that your building is equipped with infiltration, natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation to keep the air exchange rate high.
Air quality is a significant part of maintaining healthy workplaces for employees. While much of air quality has to deal with ventilation, indoor air pollutants play a role in your building’s air quality rating. By choosing office supplies, furnishings and building materials with low chemical emissions, conducting air quality tests, and maintaining humidity levels, you can improve the quality of air in your building substantially.
Be sure to test your water quality regularly to make sure that your drinking water meets the appropriate requirements, according to the U.S. National Drinking Water Standards. Installing a water purification system is a great idea!
For healthy working conditions, it’s important that your employees have comfortable lighting that limits eyestrain and promotes productivity. Provide as much access to natural light as possible for increased employee health, happiness and productivity. Incorporating biophilic elements and natural scenery into your office design can also contribute to a wealth of restorative benefits for workers.
Outdoor noises such as construction and traffic can be distracting and stress-inducing for employees trying to focus. Limit noise pollution with sound absorbing materials and dedicated quiet spaces for working.
Make sure that your healthy building meets fire safety and carbon monoxide monitoring standards. Install safety and security systems that ensure your employees’ full protection. Maintain office hygiene by following CDC recommended procedures to prioritize your employees’ health and safety!