The IX Edition of the International Congress of Sustainable Cities (CICS 2022) is held in Costa Rica, organized by the Green Building Council Costa Rica (GBCCR). One of the topics addressed is the characteristics that must be met for a building to be healthy.
The concept of happy or healthy building refers to one that is built with the needs of its users or inhabitants in mind, it is the one that focuses on their well-being. A healthy building must have thermal, acoustic and air quality comfort, as well as optimization of lighting and natural ventilation. Also; It has a design designed for the user, so that they are healthier, more productive and feel much more comfortable.
Originally, they began to talk about what sick buildings were, these were harmful to people’s health and well-being. It began to be noticed that there were higher rates of sick people, with asthma and other respiratory problems, in addition, a lack of productivity in jobs and educational centers.
Thanks to advances in design, technology and innovation, it was possible to determine a relationship between these symptoms in people and the quality of design and operation of buildings. From this, it seeks to build buildings that contribute to the well-being of the occupants. For example, if it is in an academic environment, it can contribute to the attention and concentration of students, resulting in an improvement in learning.
In the case of offices, it has been proven that there are fewer absences of people from work, more productivity and a better work environment. In the same way, in the houses it is possible for people to get a quality rest, greater comfort and health, commented NicolásRamírez, Executive Director of the GBCCR.
What are those characteristics that these healthy buildings should have?
Elías Robles, president of the GBCCR, reviews them and recalls that they are not only used to build a work from scratch, but that a building already built can have renovations and stop being a sick building:
A healthy building should maintain a constant temperature throughout the year. However, it is known that the climate is very variable, especially in countries like Costa Rica. Due to this, the installation of a climate automation system is an option that can be analyzed, be it an air conditioner, fans, etc. The design must also be considered to improve this aspect.
The pandemic appears and we realize not only the importance of thermal comfort but also of good ventilation. It is not just a matter of microbes and diseases that can be transmitted by poor ventilation, but the amount of CO2 in the environment that makes people tired and less productive, that is why the ventilation rate is sought to be higher than the minimum set at 25 cubic feet per person in dense spaces.
Natural and artificial lighting
Artificial light had focused on having only certain standards for work spaces, but it did not take into account the color and quality of light, it was believed that the light that we call today daylight was going to keep us active at all hours, but if you continue to use that same color of light throughout the day.
In the afternoon, you will have a serious problem, such as the body does not release melatonin and it does not do so because the body believes that it is very daytime. It is important to look for more amber lights in the evening and for the brain to start releasing melatonin so people can rest better at night.
Not only to avoid external noise, but also to avoid a bounce of sound internally because that tires the brain.
Both in materials, patterns and colors, it is necessary to look for those factors that connect the human being with nature, either through good views to the outside, including natural elements in the internal design and with that it connects with ancestral customs that sought to obtain peace thanks to nature. This prevents anxiety attacks.
Happy buildings seek to make people healthier, one way to do this is by providing spaces for people to stay active, improve their posture and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. This not only through ergonomic furniture, but also furniture that allows you to work standing up for a while, instead of using conventional chairs, use exercise balls to sit on them and stay more active and not leave the body in a lethargy.