How new wellness standards are reshaping architecture

December 21, 2017 Sanjana Saluja

While architects, developers, and building product designers have become "greener," new standards are now emerging that deal directly with the human body. Metropolis Magazine explores the new human-focused standards.

First there were complaints of headaches—not too surprising for the Bradley Avenue driver’s license center in Champaign, Illinois, with its crowded waiting areas and no one really wanting to be there all that much anyway. Employees just worked through the pain for a while. But over two years, from 2012 to 2014, their headaches became migraines, accompanied by burning eyes and scratchy throats. Some people even said they could taste metal in the air.

By the time the Illinois Department of Labor got involved, measurements of carbon dioxide levels inside the driver’s license center were hitting 2,900 parts per million, more than double the recommended levels of 600–1,000 ppm. The state shut down the building in 2014 and eventually razed it, deeming it too sick to be fixed. Illinois taxpayers had to fund the construction of a new center a year later.

It was a tough lesson, learned the hard way: Failing to account for the physiological effects of the built environment will cost everyone involved, especially those whose bodies are in the arena. While architects, developers, and building product designers have in the past decade adopted “greener” certifications and codes determining how good a building must be to the surrounding ecosystem, a new group of standards is now emerging that deals directly with nature on the inside. Human nature, to be exact.

Click here to read more about the effects of noise, light, and air quality on human health and not to mention, productivity.

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