Building design must include health considerations as well as energy concerns

Emergency Room SignLeadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) might be missing the mark by focusing on energy more so than health. While we believe the energy implications of design are important, we don’t think those concerns trump building for health. We think focusing on the human health aspect is critical, designing for infection control. Most existing data is tied to hospitals but can be generalized into virtually all other industries. Design principles going forward need to focus on removing human error as well as persistent cleaning technologies. We need to focus on air, surfaces, water and hands.

Infection Control for Design & Construction Projects: Minimizing risks to maximize recoveries is a comprehensive look at construction design and processes and their impact. It’s put together by Linda D. Lee, DrPH, for the Waste Management 2010 ASHES Conference and is well worth taking a look at.

Engineering Infection Control through Facility Design, done by Centers for Disease Control, notes that “many medical centers have modified their facility design to provide a safer environment for patients. From an infection control perspective, the primary objective of hospital design is to place the patient at no risk for infection while hospitalized. We describe historical landmarks about hospital design, modern facility design, and specific designs to prevent acquisition and spread of infections such as tuberculosis and aspergillosis”.

BUILDING INVESTMENT DECISION SUPPORT (BIDS™): Cost-Benefit Tool to Promote High Performance Components, Flexible Infrastructures and Systems Integration for Sustainable Commercial Buildings and Productive Organizations discusses best design option, cost-benefit factors and organizational scenarios. Notably, among the benefits of high performance buildings, the piece notes that there is health cost savings related to workman’s compensation, medical insurance costs, health litigation costs, environmental evaluation & remediation and lost work time.

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