Investing in the renovation of offices, schools and hospitals would greatly improve the health, well-being and productivity of European citizens, according to a new study by Buildings 2030 and conducted by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE).
The study finds that a holistic “people-centric renovation” of a typical office building can improve productivity with up to 12 percent, BPIE writes. At a European scale, that could be worth up to €500 billion. In schools with optimal indoor climate, students achieve the same results two weeks faster.
Students’ academic performance could be improved by between 2% and 8% with optimal temperature, lighting, noise levels and air quality. The time gained could be used for extracurricular activities, holidays or to raise the educational performance further, BPIE claims.
Moreover, hospital patients’ recovery time can be reduced by 10% on average due to improved indoor environmental quality, and 11% if optimal lighting is also provided. The average length of stay in hospitals (currently over a week) can be reduced by around 1 day resulting in a societal benefit of nearly €50bn, BPIE claims.
The study is based on a review of more than 400 academic articles, dozens of case studies and expert interviews focusing on health, wellbeing and productivity in buildings.
According to BPIE, this research takes the first step at defining, measuring, quantifying and monetising the impact of indoor air quality, thermal comfort, acoustics, controls and lighting on students, office workers and patients across Europe.
“The link between better buildings and healthier people is obvious in many cases, but this value is mostly ignored in political or business decisions. Effective valorisation tools could change this for the better.” says Oliver Rapf, Executive Director, BPIE.
There is ample evidence to show that buildings impact our health, wellbeing and productivity. We need to reshape how we think about designing, operating, renovating and investing in buildings, BPIE writes. The broad alignment of environmental and health agendas presents an opportunity to invest in enhancing the quality of life of all Europeans, alongside improving building performance.