The Covid-19 pandemic has been a significant concern to many people, causing the death of more than half a million people in the U.S. and millions of others worldwide. With the new coronavirus Delta variant, there is no end in sight, making people more aware and concerned with their health. One way to prevent infection is to create healthy buildings that are safe from the virus other potential health risks. Here are five factors to consider in planning and designing healthy buildings:
1. Building Orientation
The first thing to consider is the building’s orientation and how much sun, wind, or other elements will reach its interior. While having sufficient natural light can help promote a healthy environment, it’s also essential to have buildings that provide shelter from those elements. Exposure to sunlight, wind, rain, and snow can cause health problems due to temperature and humidity fluctuations.
2. Allow For Natural Ventilation
In addition to the proper orientation, it’s imperative to allow for natural ventilation. New information suggests that Covid-19 is airborne, meaning that we can be susceptible to it inside our homes or office buildings if the airflow is not properly controlled. Having openable windows and air inlets/outlets is critical to allow for natural ventilation. Airflow should be directed away from people rather than toward them. The way buildings are often constructed today limits airflow, leading to a stagnant environment. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should also be an integral part of a healthy building. HVAC should be able to filter and clean the air that is being circulated through ventilation systems, while also keeping temperature and humidity levels as consistent and stable as possible.
3. Consider Building Location
With the changing climate, building location should be considered carefully. Building in areas with a high risk of flooding can lead to water damage and mold growth, which is not only bad for the health of people but also contributes to poor indoor air quality. More specifically, you must also consider the location of the building in relation to its surroundings – noise, traffic, water supply, and more. It’s ideal for building new construction away from areas that have high levels of pollution. The most common pollutant is smog, and it’s important not to build in places where people are more vulnerable.
4. Construction Materials
If you can’t choose where to build your new construction, you can at least choose the materials used in its building. Not all products and materials are created equal so make sure they’re not harmful to people or the environment. For example, materials that emit formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals should be avoided. According to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, materials like pressed wood products (particleboard), foam insulation, and some types of carpeting can release dangerous levels of volatile organic compound emissions into indoor air quality, contributing to poor health conditions for people living inside.
5. Consider Space Design
Lastly, consider how the space is designed. The layout of a building can have an impact on the health of people living or working inside. For example, having more open space can promote better air circulation and help combat poor indoor air quality by allowing for more ventilation. Having high ceilings can also contribute to better indoor air quality because it allows for more airflow, diluting harmful chemicals that may be present. You don’t have to sacrifice quality or safety when choosing us at The Green Project Solutions Group. Whether it’s a commercial project or a residential home, we know how vital it is to have healthy living conditions – especially in today’s world. We care about our customers, and that includes your health. We take care of all aspects of the construction project from start to finish – from planning and design to installation and construction. Contact us today for your project. Our professionally licensed mechanical/HVAC, electrical, plumbing engineers stand ready to help you for your ongoing or next project.
Larry A. Adéyèmi, PhD
Managing Principal Consultant at Green Project Solutions Group
Strong and passionate leadership at the executive level leading and managing mechanical, electrical, plumbing/HVAC engineering, and construction projects across industries. I have created innovative engineering and construction organizations delivering design-build capital projects for transit, water, wastewater, airport, light rail, k-12 educational institutions, and commercial businesses. I bring over 30 years of experience, passion, skilled negotiation, strategic thinking, and planning, relentless networking, integrity, perseverance, diplomacy, creativity, and confidence to services and programs while seeking and maintaining positive client/stakeholder relationships.