“The reason why people love green buildings is because green buildings love people”
While energy efficiency and carbon neutrality are considered to be prerequisites for today’s sustainable buildings, they must also meet the challenges within all three sustainability pillars (environmental, social and economic) over their whole life cycle.
At every stage of its life cycle, a building designed, built or renovated in a sustainable way should help improve people’s comfort, safety and well-being while minimizing the consumption of energy and natural resources, reducing the environmental footprint and resulting in lower running costs and increased property values.
A promise at building scale delivered by the Multi Comfort program
This green building vision of Saint-Gobain is supported by sound building science and a fact-based business case, as encompassed in its Multi Comfort program.
Combining four key aspects of comfort – thermal, acoustic, visual and indoor air quality – the Multi Comfort program showcases, through real projects, how to achieve an exceptionally high level of building performance while creating sustainable, comfortable, low maintenance and cost effective living environments. In other words, living, working or even playing in a sustainable building means feeling at ease, keeping an ideal indoor temperature all year long, being protected from outside noise and surrounded by clean air, enjoying full natural light and views to the outside without glare, and having no worries about high energy bills..
Created to address the challenges of designing for different building types, in various climate zones and building traditions, the Multi Comfort program has already provided some valuable insights from the 20 buildings in 14 countries constructed to date.
Saint-Gobain supports the World Green Building Council’s BETTER PLACES FOR PEOPLE campaign
There is a growing body of evidence from around the world showing the strong link between more sustainable buildings and the increased well-being among occupants. Saint-Gobain is a global sponsor of campaigns driving the dissemination of this evidence. The World Green Building Council’s (GBC) “Better Places for People” (BPFP) campaign is at the forefront of this initiative. It gathers trendsetters who share and increase the knowledge and capabilities around sustainable buildings.
BPFP explores three segments – office, retail and homes – and produces reports that aim to widely share the most innovative case studies from pioneering companies. It provides a flexible framework that allows clear evidence to be brought to all those who design, build, own, occupy, operate or sell buildings, in that sustainable buildings are a win-win game for people, businesses and the environment.
The business case is particularly compelling for offices, where the workforce represents 90% of a company’s operating costs. Interested in reading the report? Click here.
Learn more: http://www.worldgbc.org/better-places-people
The components for healthier and greener buildings, offices
Several features need to be considered when it comes to making healthier and greener buildings:
- Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation
Office occupants can be exposed to a range of airborne pollutants that include chemicals, microorganisms and particles originating from sources both within and outside the building. Design strategies need to focus on increasing fresh air and minimizing the source of pollutants.
- Thermal Comfort
The thermal environment is comprised of air temperature, surrounding surface temperatures, air speed and humidity. It can be enhanced by providing control and adaptability to occupants.
- Daylighting and Lighting
Sustainable design strategies should maximize daylight and produce optimal lighting conditions while minimizing energy use. To do so, designers must evaluate and balance various elements such as heat gain and loss, glare control, visual quality and variations in daylight availability in different seasons and climates.
- Views and Biophilia
Biophilia is growing in importance when considering the impact of today’s working environment, as urbanization continues to invade available space and we risk becoming further separated from nature in our day-to-day lives. It also influences physical and mental health. The design strategy needs to incorporate aesthetical and pleasing views to the outside while minimizing energy use.
- Noise and Acoustics
Good acoustics are a crucial element of a satisfactory and productive office experience.
Background sound levels need to drown out unwanted distraction, but not be too loud to cause stress. The degree of external noise also needs to be taken into account.
- Interior Layout
These factors influence not just noise but also concentration, collaboration, confidentiality and creativity. Many companies instinctively know this and regularly engage in exercises to optimize interior layouts. However, the research that informs this remains less quantifiable and needs to be further developed.
- Look and Feel & Active Design and Exercise
The same can be said about the research around the ‘look and feel’ of an office, which is seen as superficial by some and yet should be taken seriously as having a potential impact on well-being and mindset – both for occupiers and visiting clients. Look and feel (and interior layout), being highly subjective, are likely to be experienced differently by people of different ages, genders and cultures.
In addition, a guaranteed route to improved health is exercise. This can be encouraged by active design within a building along with access to services and amenities such as gyms, bicycle storage and green space, some of which may be inside the office building and grounds or in the local vicinity.
- Amenities and Location
The surroundings and community context of an office building can affect individual employees’ perceptions and behavior. Good public transport links and features that enable cycling and walking are some ways to boost health, well-being and productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
View the infographic from the Better Places For People campaign about the features that make healthier and greener offices. Click here.
Another infographic is available with a focus on the four features for healthy and green schools. Click here.
To discover the potential and positive impacts of green buildings in terms of health, well-being and the economy, let’s explore the following case study.
Case Study: Saint-Gobain’s North America Headquarters in Malvern
Since October 2015, employees from Saint-Gobain North America have a new headquarters located in Malvern in Pennsylvania. A 320,000 square-foot campus, situated on 65 acres, underwent a renovation taking more than 18 months in order to transform a long-dormant site into a dynamic green building showcase for Saint-Gobain that is LEED Platinium certified (core and shell and commercial interior).
A few years after the relocation and in partnership with the University of Oregon, Saint-Gobain North America led a study based on a pre-occupancy survey in its former office and a post-occupancy one in its present building. The study details how a systems-based approach to design can positively impact thermal, visual and acoustical comfort, and indoor air quality to achieve overall Multi Comfort, productivity, and well-being.
The results were clear, with employees saying that they felt healthier and more energetic in a new open-plan office focused on green design, as they reported a better environment in terms of visual, acoustical and thermal comforts.
Read the full report of the study by clicking here.
"[This] Headquarter has been designed to demonstrate the power our products have to improve the quality of people’s lives. It is a shining example of how innovative companies can design, construct and renovate sustainable, healthy, comfortable and environmentally friendly buildings around the world," said John Crowe, President and CEO of Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed Corporations.