Building Optimisation for Occupier Wellbeing: Enhancing Health and Efficiency

December 14, 2023 Published by Tritech Engineering

The principal reasons for optimising a building, just a few years ago, would have been improving its cost efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint. But then the pandemic came along, and people’s priorities changed, particularly the emphasis on our health and wellbeing.

Technology to enhance health and wellbeing

More efficient HVAC systems have not only improved air filtering and ventilation capabilities that reduce the risk of the spread of respiratory infections, but also enhanced energy efficiency. Energy optimisation solutions such as programmable thermostats, LED lighting, smart building automation, and occupancy sensors control heating and cooling systems more effectively, reduce energy consumption, enhance productivity, and improve overall cost-effectiveness with an energy optimisation system.

Comfort is a big contributor to health and well being

Modern insulation reduces the amount of energy being allowed to leak through the building envelope, thus improving energy performance. Improving the quality of the insulation in the walls, attic and basement can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, while improving the overall comfort of the building and contributing to energy savings.

Natural Light contributes to wellness

Exposure to natural light helps our bodies to produce vitamin D, improves our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns, helps us to focus, enables us to get more done, and even makes us happier. Ensuring we get enough of this vital resource is key to our physical and psychological well being. But according to research, we now spend close to 90% of our lives indoors – making it difficult to experience the benefits of natural light, because we simply don’t get enough of it.

Utilising more natural lighting and installing task lighting, dimmers, and timers not only helps save energy, it makes for a significant improvement in energy optimisation and operational efficiency, which increases the happiness of the people in the building.

More plant life

Living walls are large, vertical sculptures of greenery designed to bring buildings to life with nature. They can be situated outdoors or indoors and add not only colour to a workplace, but act as natural air purifiers. They absorb harmful chemicals, aid concentration, and are especially useful in urban areas where pollution is higher. Incorporating natural elements into the design of a building like this is called biophilia. Other ways to introduce more greenery into the workplace can be as simple as placing planters at workstations or in meeting rooms, or opening up views to natural landscapes.

The benefits of designing a healthier building

Central to the designing of healthier buildings are the WELL and LEED accreditations.

Boost in productivity

WELL practices are evident in spaces that significantly improve occupants’ productivity. Optimal lighting, indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and acoustics are present, aligning with the WELL Building Standard. Workers perform in environments where their well-being is prioritised, increasing concentration and reducing health risks.

Addressing Absenteeism

Achieving the WELL accreditation proactively addresses indoor air quality, proper ventilation, and ergonomic design, mitigating health-related issues that contribute to absenteeism. This certification underscores a commitment to creating spaces that promote a healthy and proactive lifestyle, resulting in an increased number of occupants.

Enhanced Life Quality The LEED accreditation goes beyond structural considerations. It focuses on improving overall life quality by creating spaces that align with biophilic principles to prioritise occupants’ comfort. The LEED framework supports the vision of constructing buildings that contribute positively to mental health, happiness, and occupant comfort.

Reduced Carbon Emissions

Sustainable construction practices are integral to a healthier planet. The LEED accreditation serves as an internationally recognised benchmark for reducing carbon emissions through energy-efficient design, renewable energy sources, sustainable materials, and operational energy management. These green building strategies not only contribute to the sustainability of buildings, but also contribute to global environmental goals.

Optimising the Mastercard Technology Campus Project

Mastercard Technology Campus is the first phase of a new technology hub at South County Business Park, Sandyford, and demonstrates the client and design team’s commitment to building optimisation. With a floor area of 107,000 sqft transformed into a CAT B office space, the project achieved LEED Platinum and WELL Platinum certifications under a JCT design and build contract.

The project involved the demolition and repurposing of existing services and the installation of new supplementary services, from air handling units to energy management systems. Beyond meeting the client’s energy, acoustic, and mechanical performance goals.

Collaborate early to optimise results

For a construction project that prioritises sustainability and wellness, early contractor involvement gives you a head start in the design phase. This proactive approach, allowing plumbers, electricians, and HVAC engineers to interrogate the design early on in the context of constructability will optimise building performance and enhance occupant well-being.

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