Industry Insights

Why The Healthy Buildings Movement Will Explode In 2020

When Harvard professors Joe Allen and John Macomber wrote Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, they didn’t know we’d be living through a pandemic when the book launched. Even before health led news headlines worldwide, Allen and Macomber felt passionate about the effects of the built environment on human health and performance. And now that we’re experiencing Covid-19, I think we can all agree: the quality of our indoor spaces matters like never before.


9 foundations of a healthy building

In Healthy Buildings, the authors share a helpful model to assess a building’s potential effects on human health. The model includes nine foundations — including ventilation, thermal health, and more — to help building owners, managers, and occupants plan indoor spaces that promote health. We are thrilled about how well this model, which is available on Harvard’s For Health website, aligns with our mission at Saint-Gobain:

Saint-Gobain designs, manufactures and distributes materials and solutions which are key ingredients in the wellbeing of each of us and the future of all. They can be found everywhere in our living places and our daily life: in buildings, transportation, infrastructure and in many industrial applications. They provide comfort, performance and safety while addressing the challenges of sustainable construction, resource efficiency and climate change.”

At SageGlass, we love partnering with our colleagues at Saint-Gobain North America to consult with building owners, investors, builders, and architects on solutions to promote occupant health. Together, we offer expertise on the following:

  • Acoustics
  • Albedo & Lighting
  • Biophilia
  • Building Codes
  • Building Science Principles
  • Durability
  • Moisture Analysis
  • Multi Comfort Design
  • Sustainability
  • High-Performance Buildings

Our building scientists have been researching and promoting these concepts for years, so it’s exciting that Healthy Buildings not only pulls them together in a clear model, but also makes the economic case for healthy buildings.


The economic case for healthy buildings

One of the most valuable aspects of Healthy Buildings is its interdisciplinary approach. Allen and Macomber use health science, building science, and business science to make a compelling argument that healthy buildings are not only good but also good for business. Savvy companies can use their real estate as a tool to drive employee recruitment, productivity, wellness, and retention. And investors can charge a premium for healthier spaces.

The authors cite research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab that estimates that implementing just a handful of the nine foundations of healthy buildings could boost the U.S. economy by $20 billion. The research factored in ventilation, thermal health, and mold and moisture control. But how can we convince decision makers of the enormity of this opportunity?

In most commercial office building projects, developers try to minimize costs, while tenants want to maximize the occupant experience. Even in an owner-occupied project, there may be split incentives between different departments. In other words, the group that pays for the healthy materials and amenities may not be the same group that directly benefits from them. But Allen and Macomber make a strong case for more far-reaching benefits and ROI.


Join the conversation about healthy buildings

This book could not be more timely. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations are re-examining their workplaces and customer-facing facilities. How can we better prepare ourselves for future pandemics, and how can we can simply make our buildings — where we spend the majority of our time — healthier? This shouldn’t be a priority for healthcare facilities alone. This should be a priority for offices, housing, transportation terminals, retail spaces, and more.

SageGlass was honored to sponsor a recent webinar with Joe Allen and John Macomber to help elevate the conversation about healthy buildings. If you missed it, you can watch the recording now. SageGlass CEO Alan McLenaghan provides a welcome, and VP of sales and field operations Namrata Vora interviews the authors, who share some highlights of the book.

You can also visit the Healthy Buildings website, where you can read testimonials and learn more about the authors. Thanks to our media partner Bisnow, a great commercial real estate news source and community, for hosting the webinar for us. And congratulations to Joe Allen and John Macomber for writing such an important book at such a historic time.