FMI’s Greg Powell: Wellness push is ‘disrupting’ sustainable building

Greg Powell, FMI

Designers, builders, employers and property owners need to “go beyond simple LEED standards” in their commitment to healthy buildings, a leading construction industry management consultant argues in a recent paper.

Greg Powell and his colleagues at FMI Corp. researched the growing market for wellness in buildings, and its implication for architecture, engineering and construction firms. In a video accompanying an article on the topic, “Health and Wellness: The Next Disruption in Sustainable Building Design,” here’s what Powell says they discovered:

[P]revailing thinking is going beyond the carbon footprint of the building or its energy efficiency to include the health of the occupants inside the building, or the wellness factor. And this trend influences project owners as well as employees choosing the environment they want to work in and the employers that are competing for that talent. Design firms need to keep pace with changes and evolution in sustainability … . They need to extend their capabilities beyond simple LEED standards to include emerging wellness standards. Technology is an important component of sustainability as well. And so equally firms need to stay at the leading edge of new technology and systems and building products that address occupant health. Property owners and employers are finding that they can’t leverage a simple LEED certification the way they used to. Employers are finding that the wellness of the health of the working environment actually improves productivity among its workers.

That’s one of the most pointed arguments I’ve heard for construction-related firms to build their expertise in making buildings healthier. After years on the periphery of the green building industry, healthy buildings are moving to centerstage on many mainstream projects — exemplified by growth of Well and Fitwell certification platforms.

Powell and co-authors Marvin Roeder and Elizabeth Bowen argue that the trend will only deepen as the benefits to building occupants become more formally accepted. “In time,” they write, “buildings that achieve wellness certifications may earn health insurance incentives, as insurance providers continue to explore ways to reduce risk.”

Photo credit: Pixabay via Creative Commons

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