Building Clean Environment For A Healthy Living
To create a healthy environment, we must begin in places we spend most of our time - indoors.
While we embrace the ‘new normal’ and begin to see the end of this pandemic, the viral outbreak has permanently changed the way we perceive our environment. Health and safety have made it to the top of our priority lists. To create a healthy environment, we must begin in places we spend most of our time - indoors. As architects and designers explore strategies for a safe indoor environment, the following factors can significantly improve the health and wellbeing of a building’s inhabitants.
Improving indoor air quality
The air we breathe has a significant impact on our health. During the design phase, incorporating MERV-13 or higher media filters can reduce the spread of airborne viruses and improve indoor air quality. Additional carbon filters installed in existing mechanical systems can ensure a safer environment indoors. Selecting low-VOC paints, finishes and safe cleaning chemicals that comply with health and safety standards is crucial to maintaining indoor air quality.
Ensuring healthy potable water
Safe water can save lives. Expelling organic contaminants through activated carbon filtration or by the process of sediment filtration with a pore size of 1.5 micrometres or lesser ensures healthy, potable water for a building’s inhabitants. UGVI filtration (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation) also helps in eliminating harmful microbes and keeping water quality in check.
Hygiene, sterility and sanitisation
To ensure a hygienic environment indoors, air dryers and bar soaps should be avoided while shifting to disposable paper towels and liquid soaps. In kitchens, the ideal food cookware are ceramics, cast iron, stainless steel, glass, solid untreated wood and ideal surfaces for food cutting are marble, plastic, glass and pyro ceramic.
Optimal exposure to daylight
Several studies have shown that exposure to natural light has a positive effect on our health and wellbeing. To ensure optimal exposure to daylight, ambient light levels should be between 215 and 300 lux. Designers must avoid high contrasts between immediately adjacent spaces, avoid extreme bright, dark or potentially glaring spots. Windows should be shaded, especially in the west, to minimise glare and heat gain.
To ensure a user’s comfort indoors, designers must use furniture compliant with HFES or BIFMA standards, both of which have Indian subsidiaries to facilitate regional certifications. Ambient thermostat controls with a possibility of providing a thermal gradient of 3 degrees across various zones should also be implemented for thermal comfort. In other public areas, acoustic zones should be segregated, and sound masking strategies should be employed wherever necessary.
Improving health and fitness
As architects, we can encourage positive changes in people’s lifestyles through the design of our buildings. Creating physical activity spaces indoors, persuading the healthier choices through interior fitness circulation systems like staircases and ramps and using functional furniture like height-adjustable desks can help promote health and fitness.
Biophilic design for wellbeing
Biophilic design claims that humans have an innate affinity towards nature and that their connection is beneficial to their health and wellbeing. Evidence has shown that incorporating elements of nature through plants, patterns, materials and colours positively impact health and wellness. Using meaningful pieces of art or rejuvenating spatial experiences can also help in improving health and wellbeing.