Health & The Built Environment: Scales of Impact

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Health & The Built Environment: Scales of Impact

“We are separated by geography, income, time, size… ultimately, we are fundamentally distanced from the result of our decisions. However, what we decide impacts us and the world at large.”

As James Connelly, Vice President of Products and Strategic Growth of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) noted above, in our increasingly globalized and digitized world, we are getting further and further from seeing the results of our decisions. This is especially pertinent in the arena of health and wellness. With complete knowledge of what is in our building materials and how it impacts our health and communities at large, we can be more informed to make better, smarter decisions.

So stok teamed up with ILFI and other changemakers to take a fresh look at one of the biggest movements in the industry: health and the built environment.

Situated in the VanDusen Botanical Gardens – which has its own Living Building Certified visitor center – the group dove into this healthy building discussion from a new perspective: scale. Framing the discussion around Product, Building, and Community-level health efforts, we can better understand how these pieces work together to result in true impact at scale.

Here’s a snapshot of the Summit, including the leading case studies and key topics covered in the discussion.

Product: Green Chemistry

Building Technology Director Brent Trenga from Kingspan discussed the Ireland-based building materials company’s drive to pioneer new healthy, sustainable products. In particular, Kingspan’s QuadCore closed-cell insulated panels, which are compliant with ILFI’s stringent Red List and Greenguard Gold standards, were a highlight of the panel for their spotless ingredients list and outstanding thermal performance.

Jason Parachnowitsch in Strategic Global Accounts at Mohawk discussed the group’s latest Lichen floorcovering product – the first floorcovering to become a Certified Living Product. Mohawk also just debuted 5 Living Products at NeoCon, shifting the conversation to handprints over footprints for the positive, regenerative impact products can have.

Building: Materials & The Business Case

Mona Lemoine, Senior Sustainable Design Specialist at Perkins + Will, spoke to how the firm prioritizes R&D with its 10 labs that dig into the intersection of buildings, society, and innovation. Well-known for its precautionary list and white papers on PVC, antimicrobials, and flame retardants, Perkins + Will is creating sustainable, healthy buildings such as the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), and providing clear frameworks for materials selection from the project outset.

Devon Bertram, Real Estate Sustainability Strategist at stok, followed up by detailing the business case for investment in high performance buildings, illustrating how significant value (particularly around increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and increased retention) is derived from an enhanced occupant experience through healthy, engaging design and optimal material selection. These strategies are showcased in projects like NRDC’s San Francisco office – which was recently recognized with the 2018 CoreNet Sustainable Leadership Award – where the health of the occupant was at front of mind for the entire design team.

Community: Wellbeing at Scale

Candace Koo, Affordable Housing Consultant at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, discussed the company’s role in integrating sustainability into housing at scale. As the National Building Code aims to be “net zero energy ready” by 2032, the National Housing Strategy focuses on creating new housing; modernizing existing housing; providing resources for Community Housing Providers; and innovation and research – including innovation funds that will provide loans and financial contributions to encourage new funding models and innovative building techniques to revolutionize the affordable housing sector.

Jessica Hale Wooliams, Sustainability + Outreach Coordinator at BC Public Service, shared the importance of integrating health and wellness during all stages of the project, and at scale. The organization’s new Workplace Strategies and Planning group is focused on integrating wellbeing into both planning work and design, as well as with leasing decision-making, for spaces with health built into their very foundation.

If you’d like to talk further with one of stok’s healthy buildings specialists, reach out!