BRE has unveiled plans to undertake a pilot project to measure the real-world health and wellbeing of building occupants.
It said that the trial would involve creating the Healthy Research Building, the UK’s first operational workplace research environment.
The accrediting body said that the project would refurbish an existing office building at its head office in Watford to create a fully operational office that would enable occupants to be monitored while they undertake their day-to-day work.
The aim of the project is to enable research of the impacts of indoor environments on human health and wellbeing while generating evidence-based information that could be used in practical ways to create healthier indoor spaces.
The trial follows the announcement that the International Well Building Institute (IWB) and BRE are aligning their standards to make it easier for projects to gain accreditation from both organisations.
BRE said that the building in Watford is currently home to 60 members of staff and would be reconfigured into the organisation’s healthy research building to form part of its Innovation Park.
Once completed, it said its staff would be allowed to use the office freely while being monitored using advanced sensor technology and remote monitoring. Data relating to the health and wellbeing of the staff will then be analysed by BRE to provide the industry with a greater understanding of how different products, materials and internal configurations affect occupants.
“It has been claimed that we spend over 90% of our time indoors and in an office environment, 90% of the cost is the people inside,” said BRE global director of sustainability Martin Townsend. “It is therefore vital that we better understand the effects that indoor environments are having on their occupants.
“By refurbishing one of our offices to achieve Breeam and the Well Building Standard and integrating state-of-the-art monitoring technology, we will be creating the UK’s first living laboratory.”
In addition to creating the Healthy Research Building, BRE is calling on the industry to help participate in the project through specific product testing to ascertain the impacts on occupant health and wellbeing.
“The health and wellbeing agenda is such an important part of our sustainable built environment and something that needs to be industry inclusive,” continued Townsend. “As such, we don’t just want to research our own staff to drive this agenda, we want to work with the industry to create an inclusive agenda on research.
“To ensure we actively undertake the research that the industry needs, we’re calling on the industry to work with us on an industry supported health and wellbeing research programme.”