New study on improving the health, well-being and productivity of European citizens through people-centric renovations for offices, schools and hospitals

Investing in the renovation of offices, schools and hospitals would greatly improve the health, well-being and productivity of European citizens, according to a new study launched today by Buildings 2030 and conducted by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE).

Three building types – hospitals, schools and offices – account for nearly half of the total floor area of non-residential buildings in Europe.  They will still be with us for decades to come, yet the vast majority needs to be renovated to improve their energy performance.

The study finds that a holistic people-centric renovation of a typical office building can lead to up to a 12% increase in productivity. At a European scale, that could be worth up to €500 billion.

In schools with optimal indoor climate, students achieve the same results 2 weeks faster. Students’ academic performance could be improved by between 2% and 8%with optimal temperature, lighting, noise levels and air quality. The time gained could be used for extracurricular activities, holidays or to raise the educational performance further.

Hospital patients’ recovery time can be reduced by 10% on average due to improved indoor  environmental quality, and  11% if optimal lighting is also provided. Put simply, average length of stay in hospitals (currently over a week) can be reduced by around 1 day resulting in a societal benefit of nearly €50bn.

The impact of building renovation on health, well-being and productivity could improve the lives of more than 200 million Europeans and provides more evidence why our buildings must be renovated. This set of publications, developed by BPIE and commissioned by Buildings 2030, takes an important step towards defining, measuring, quantifying and monetising the impact of indoor environmental quality in schools, hospitals and offices. The findings reveal a major business opportunity to invest in people-centric renovation of existing buildings. Focusing on the health, wellbeing and performance of staff, students and patients will boost property values, financial returns and societal gains through an increased productivity, boosted academic performances and improved healing processes. Policy recommendations are made to secure the substantial societal benefits identified in the research.

The set of publications is based on more than 400 academic articles, dozens of case studies and expert interviews focusing on health, wellbeing and productivity in buildings. This research takes the first step at defining, measuring, quantifying and monetising the impact of indoor air quality, thermal comfort, acoustics, controls and lighting on students, office workers and patients across Europe.

Building owners, real estate managers, tenants, occupiers and professionals across the built environment supply chain have a key role to play in demanding and delivering these benefits by:

  • Choosing and investing in better buildings as a strategic objective: We encourage real estate investors, planners, public authorities and every employer to make indoor environmental quality a priority consideration.
  • Including the value of the health, well-being and performance benefits alongside energy cost savings within cost-benefit analyses when appraising building renovation options and new construction.
  • Engaging the education sector, health sector, and health insurance sectors as allies and key stakeholders in supporting the case for better and faster renovation of our buildings.
  • Ensuring an ongoing dialogue between HR and facilities management functions to ensure that buildings are always operating so as to maximise the indoor environmental quality.
  • Gathering data and feedback from building users and smart sensors so that settings can be adjusted to meet the specific needs of occupants. The industry can play a key role in addressing the knowledge gaps (see box) by monitoring and publishing results on the performance of renovated buildings with high indoor environmental quality. Digitalisation can facilitate knowledge-sharing across the supply chain to ensure the whole industry gears up to deliver energy efficient people-centric buildings.
  • Leading by example – real estate developers, investors and planners can lead the way in raising standards across their portfolios, which will eventually influence other players. The public estate in particular has a key role to play, since it accounts for around 12% of all non-residential buildings.

The set of publications comprising two targeted papers (policy and market), the methodology document and two infographics are available here.

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