The built environment has profound effects on human health and on the world around us.
At their worst, buildings contribute to some of the key public health concerns of modern society, from asthma to cancer to obesity. But at their very best, buildings and communities are powerful promoters of health and well-being.
Our built environment can protect the health and promote the wellbeing of:
- Inhabitants of our homes, schools, and places of work, worship, healing, and recreation.
- Workers who build, operate, maintain, and renovate these places and who manufacture and dispose of their materials.
- Neighborhoods in which our buildings and infrastructure are located.
- The Global and Fence-line Communities affected by the global reach of emissions from our activities and the production, use, and disposal of building materials.
- Future generations who will face the consequences of our decisions.
LEED and Human Health
Beyond helping buildings realize their environmental benefits and their resulting financial savings, LEED also helps buildings to realize a wide variety of human health benefits.
LEED strategies focused on indoor environmental quality, health impacts of materials, ventilation, lighting, thermal comfort, smoking and outdoor green space all share strong affiliations with human health. LEED’s integrated approach promotes healthier sites for construction workers, occupants and passersby.
LEED strategies intended to provide on-site green space, natural lighting and ample views of the outdoors all could potentially benefit human mental health and productivity. Biophilia, or instinctive links between humans and other forms of life, and biophilic design have been shown to positively impact building occupants by reducing stress, increasing happiness, reducing fatigue and increasing productivity. Smoking restrictions and indoor air quality requirements also promote healthier indoor and outdoor environments, especially for those with existing respiratory conditions.
Health impacts of building materials are also prioritized in LEED by incorporating HDPs and EPDs. A credit for bicycle facilities also promotes both exercise and a zero-emission form of transportation.
All building typologies can benefit from these LEED strategies to have a positive impact on its occupants health and wellbeing.