The demand for improved living spaces exists. Stacey Temprell, Habitat Marketing Director at Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland, explains why it’s important to incorporate occupant comfort, health and wellbeing into the sustainable building equation to meet growing consumer requirements.
Until recently, measuring health and wellbeing in buildings has been subjective or difficult to standardise. We decided to find out what the UK population wants from a home when thinking about its health and wellbeing impacts. We surveyed 3,000 homeowners and renters in an in-depth study and found that 90% would want a home that doesn’t compromise their health and wellbeing, plus 29% would be willing to pay more for it.
This shows that homeowners are beginning to recognise that there should be more to a comfortable home than low energy bills, and also that there’s more to be done to educate consumers on how sustainable buildings can improve their general comfort, health and wellbeing, while reducing their environmental impact.
There are many elements that contribute to sustainable, healthy buildings, but energy efficiency is just one of them. A holistic approach to building is the key to sustainable building, with no one design criteria more important than another. While it’s long been accepted that buildings should be energy efficient, it’s too easy to presume that all homeowners are worried about it simply lowering energy bills. The survey is just one example to demonstrate that ideals are changing.
The drive to improve health, wellbeing and productivity shifts the balance towards people and the ways in which our surrounding environment can improve our performance and wellbeing. For example, natural light in homes has been shown to improve sleep cycles and benefit wellbeing, with 63% of people rating natural light as the most important aspect of a home1, according to RIBA.
Thanks to technology, architects, contractors and end users are more aware of building performance and the impact that our surroundings have on our health and wellbeing than ever before.
It’s possible to obtain hard data of a building’s performance, but clearly there’s a desire to know how our buildings are benefitting us.While we move to an increasingly smarter home, homeowners judge the quality of a home by the comfort of their environment and how it makes them feel.
Emerging smart home technology allows us to monitor and control how our surroundings make us feel as well as see how much our energy bills are costing. This is just as important as measuring the physical performance aspects of a building, and it’s only going to get more intelligent.
The industry can no longer afford to act independently of the homeowner, as they are driving the growing trend for homes to benefit their health and wellbeing. It’s time to support holistic building approaches and provide effective solutions to some of the most common problems in the home, which can have serious impacts on occupant health and wellbeing, such as poor indoor air quality, access to natural light, poor thermal quality, and inadequate acoustics.
Saint-Gobain launched the full data for its ‘UK Home, Health and Wellbeing Report 2016’, a study on what’s important to homeowners and renters when it comes to health and wellbeing in buildings. Download the report here.
1Evening Standard, ‘Natural sunlight in our homes is essential for our wellbeing’, http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/home-garden/interiors/design-news/natural-sunlight-in-our-homes-is-essential-for-our-wellbeing-31882.html
2 Information Age, http://www.information-age.com/smart-home-technology-tipping-point-uk-123464175/