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By Kelly Worden
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Integrative process and design are familiar terms to building owners and facility managers with green building experience. It helps building owners achieve superior sustainability outcomes by encouraging a systems approach to building design and operation. The integrative process recognizes the interrelated nature of building systems and encourages seemingly disparate members of the project team to collaborate early in project design to identify synergies across systems and maximize energy, water, and cost savings. The integrated design is often adopted by building owners and facility managers who recognize that high-performance buildings have a greater market value. With increased understanding of the impact that building design and operation have on human health, high-performance buildings that promote health pose an even greater opportunity for value creation. While occupant impacts such as productivity have been considered using traditional integrative process, integrated design has not included a robust consideration of human health impacts outside of its application to healthcare projects. Recognizing that building design of all space types has far-reaching impacts on human health and well-being, public health and green building researchers have developed an integrative process for health promotion. This new process, now available through the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED pilot credit, guides project teams through a systematic consideration of a project’s health impacts and rewards teams for prioritizing strategies according to existing health needs. The new pilot credit aims to align with existing integrative processes for energy and water by helping project teams consider health outcomes alongside traditional environmental outcomes. Rather than directing project teams to narrowly focus on one or two health issues, teams are encouraged to broaden their definition of health. Aligned with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health movement, this new credit is based on public health research demonstrating that the built environment impacts physical, mental, and social well-being in a holistic manner that extends beyond traditional indoor environmental quality issues. Project teams will now have a framework for enrolling public health professionals to promote a culture of health through the built environment. The process also aims to guide project teams through an informed consideration of the numerous health-related strategies that are available to them. Such strategies can be found within traditional green building rating systems as well as in emerging building certification systems dedicated to health and wellbeing. Development of the integrative process for health promotion was led by the Green Health Partnership, a partnership between the University of Virginia School of Medicine and USGBC with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The new pilot credit was informed by partnerships with Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. and the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Variations of the integrative process for health promotion are also available for use within the 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria and the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating system as an Innovation Challenge.
Project teams seeking technical assistance related to the LEED Integrative Process for Health Promotion pilot credit should contact the Green Health Partnership.
Kely Worden, MPH, is project manager, health research, for U.S. Green Building Council.
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