Study: People less likely to fall sick in green buildings

Study: People less likely to fall sick in green buildings

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Buildings constructed and renovated with the environment and resource-efficiency in mind are not only greener and cheaper to operate, maintain and demolish, but they’re healthier places for people to live and work in.

This was the key finding from a study by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the National University of Singapore, which revealed that occupants of green buildings are less likely to experience sick building syndrome; a mysterious medical condition where people who spend a significant time in a building feel unwell due to bad air quality and poor ventilation, reports Eco Business.

People who spend up to eight hours a day in the same building — a group that likely includes the vast majority of Singapore’s working population — can suffer symptoms such as headaches, coughing, sleepiness, dry eyes and itchy skin. Their work performance can be negatively affected as a result.

The study of 14 buildings in Singapore revealed this week at the International Green Building Conference in Singapore, found that people who work in Green Mark (GM) certified buildings were 60 percent less likely to suffer headaches and unusual fatigue than people who work in non-certified buildings, and 50 percent less likely to suffer from dry or itchy skin.

The Green Mark certification system, introduced in Singapore in 2005 and now used in 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region, rates buildings on their environmental performance.

The research found that GM-certified buildings were better at maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity than non-green buildings. They were also better at regulating fresh air levels, and had lower levels of bacteria and fungi than non-certified buildings.

Through qualitative analysis of people’s perceptions of working in these buildings, the study found that people who work in green buildings were happier with the air quality, lighting levels, humidity and temperature than people in non-certified ones.

However, the study also showed that GM-certified buildings, which tend to be newer, showed higher levels of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde than non-certified buildings, although the levels of these pollutants were well below levels considered unhealthy.

The findings from the study will be used to trial new criteria for the Green Mark scheme.

The new criteria, which focus on the health implications of greener buildings, will be piloted in non-residential buildings for a one-year period with a view to improving, for instance, ventilation systems that regulate the intake of fresh air.

The push to improve the quality of the indoor environment in the city-state is central to the latest master plan from the BCA, announced by Desmond Lee, minister for social and family development.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation

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