The recent renaissance wood has been experiencing as well as global building trends and innovation are immutable – green is healthy. But now, thought leaders so not only want buildings that meet top sustainability ratings, but a vast majority wants to realise new standards for wellness as well. And this meeting of designs that meld environment and health together has opened the door for new possibilities for more wood structures, finishes, and systems.
On one hand, there is the design and operational benefits of building materials of wood and engineered wood, long understood. And on the other, there is the increasing knowledge and understanding of how buildings shape the health of people. All in all, building owners and architects are now looking for greener places that raise the level of comfort, enjoyment, and productivity.
According to the Architectural Record, with the latest Version of the United States Green building Council’s LEED certifications as well as recent studies by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the environmental benefits of wood are even more visible. For high-performance sustainability, California, United States (U.S.) leads the way with their commercial wood systems frequently used in zero-net-energy (ZNE) structures.
WELL Building Standard™, a progressively influential independent third-party certification spearheaded by the International WELL Building Institute, has become the benchmark of choice for wood’s role in wellness. Consisting of seven asreas of building performance including daylight and quality of water among others, it looks to wood solutions in a variety of areas such as acoustics and sound reduction. Engineered wood, such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), offer a superior acoustic experience, for example.
Wood structures and wall assemblies also provides occupants with thermal bridging and insulation, increasing comfort and productivity with wood flooring, glue-laminated timber (glulam), and structural insulated panels (SIPs).
Another factor is biophilia, the human reaction and attraction to natural shapes and patterns encompassed in the Mind section of the standard. Numerous studies have proven time and again the benefits of biophilia and how wood positively improves human responses. In fact, a Canadian study showed that buildings with top ratings are “completely wood dominated, containing little to no artificial materials and having large windows with views of nature.”
Architects and project teams take advantage of our innate love of nature with environmental elements, lighting, and layouts, which include exposed wood finishes with visible graining. Wood even improves the quality of the indoor environment and air quality, contributing to the olfactory comfort of the occupants.
And with 79 per cent of U.S. building owners of the opinion that healthier architecture and operations will raise employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, the use of innovative wood systems in green, healthy building projects is being pushed forward by market need. On top of that, according to Integrated Benefits Institute, buildings with low ratings are a large contributor to low productivity thanks to poor health – that can cost US$570 billion annually, according to the Architectural Record.
Source: Architectural Record