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Should FMs Take Responsibility for Healthy Communities? 


By Greg Zimmerman Green
healthy city

One of my favorite stories I worked on this year was a profile cover story of Corey Zarecki, a facility executive at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis. Zarecki has worked on a ton of fascinating energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

But it was something Zarecki said about what he sees as the mission of buildings in his organization that has stuck with me. He said the reason Gundersen Health System is so focused on environmental issues is that, as a healthcare organization, it’s not only their responsibility to treat sick patients, but also to be proactive in keeping the communities in which they’re established healthy. That is, the focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy means that less fossil fuel is burned, meaning fewer pollutants in the air, which results in healthier communities. 

What a fascinating notion of corporate responsibility: That healthy, environmentally sustainable buildings lead to healthier people in the community, and therefore overall healthier communities.

This idea is also the topic of the second episode of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Built for Health podcast. In the episode, host Flavia Grey connects with Andy Dannenberg, affiliate professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health, and Mark Delisi, vice president of corporate responsibility at AvalonBay Communities, discuss how healthy communities are those in which help people are able to thrive. 

The conclusion is the same as the idea Zarecki put forward: By fostering a sense of community through design and public health strategies, designers and facility managers alike stand to make a significant difference in the well-being of individuals, families, and the entire populations.

This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management and FacilitiesNet.com. Read his cover story about Chris Walinski and his mission to make open offices flexible and productive

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