Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity

Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity

by Joseph G. Allen, John D. Macomber


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A Fortune Best Book of the Year
An AIA New York Book of the Year

“This book should be essential reading for all who commission, design, manage, and use buildings—indeed anyone who is interested in a healthy environment.”—Norman Foster

As schools and businesses around the world consider when and how to reopen their doors to fight COVID-19, the Director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings Program and Harvard Business School’s leading expert on urban resilience reveal what you can do to harness the power of your offices, homes, and schools to protect your health—and boost every aspect of your performance and well-being.

Ever feel tired during a meeting? That’s because most conference rooms are not bringing in enough fresh air. When that door opens, it literally breathes life back into the room. But there is a lot more acting on your body that you can’t feel or see. From our offices and homes to schools, hospitals, and restaurants, the indoor spaces where we work, learn, play, eat, and heal have an outsized impact on our performance and well-being. They affect our creativity, focus, and problem-solving ability and can make us sick—jeopardizing our future and dragging down profits in the process.

Charismatic pioneers of the healthy building movement who have paired up to combine the cutting-edge science of Harvard’s School of Public Health with the financial know-how of the Harvard Business School, Joseph Allen and John Macomber make a compelling case in this urgently needed book for why every business and home owner should make certain relatively low-cost investments a top priority. Grounded in exposure and risk science and relevant to anyone newly concerned about how their surroundings impact their health, Healthy Buildings can help you evaluate the impact of small, easily controllable environmental fluctuations on your immediate well-being and long-term reproductive and lung health. It shows how our indoor environment can have a dramatic impact on a whole host of higher order cognitive functions—including things like concentration, strategic thinking, troubleshooting, and decision-making. Study after study has found that your performance will dramatically improve if you are working in optimal conditions (with high rates of ventilation, few damaging persistent chemicals, and optimal humidity, lighting and noise control). So what would it take to turn that knowledge into action?

Cutting through the jargon to explain complex processes in simple and compelling language, Allen and Macomber show how buildings can both expose you to and protect you from disease. They reveal the 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building, share insider tips, and show how tracking what they call “health performance indicators” with smart technology can boost a company’s performance and create economic value. With decades of practice in protecting worker health, they offer a clear way forward right now, and show us what comes next in a post-COVID world. While the “green” building movement introduced important new efficiencies, it’s time to look beyond the four walls—placing the decisions we make around buildings into the larger conversation around development and health, and prioritizing the most important and vulnerable asset of any building: its people.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674237971
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 04/21/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 55,087
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Joseph G. Allen is the Director of the Healthy Buildings program and an Assistant Professor at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. A renowned forensic investigator of sick buildings, he is a regular keynote speaker and advises leading global companies on Healthy Building strategies. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, National Geographic, and the New York Times.

John D. Macomber is a Senior Lecturer in finance at Harvard Business School. His work has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Wall St. Journal Asia, and the Boston Globe. He is the author of more than thirty case studies on infrastructure projects with particular emphasis on office buildings in the United States, housing in India, water in Mexico, innovative project finance in Africa, and private-sector–led new cities in Asia.

Table of Contents

Preface: Why This Book? vii

I The Case for Healthy Buildings

1 Who Are We and Why Should You Care? 3

2 The Global Mega-changes Shaping Our World, Our Buildings, .and Us 22

3 Why Are We Ignoring the 90 Percent? 38

4 Putting the Building to Work for You 55

5 Creating and Capturing Value 71

II A Healthy Building Strategy

6 The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building 85

7 Our Global Chemical Experiment 123

8 Healthy Building Certification Systems 147

9 Moving from KPIs to HPIs 175

10 Beyond the Four Wails 200

11 What's Now and What's Next? 217

Conclusion: Buildings, Business, Health, and Wealth 240

Notes 253

Acknowledgments 275

Index 279

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