CookFox Architects, a Manhattan company dedicated to sustainability and green spaces in the design of buildings, is a showcase for biophilia. The office building in Midtown has three roof terraces.
Even as that Coronavirus In the U.S., the pandemic is worsening, home-stay orders have eased in some areas, and companies have sent some employees back to offices with restrictions on social distancing, temperature controls, and plexiglass sneeze barriers.
These new health precautions in Covid-19 are new for offices. But architects and office designers have long innovated to make corporate spaces healthier and greener – projects they say will be in greater demand even as millions work from home and companies rethink their needs for future office space.
“If you go back, when I go back, people will look at office buildings differently,” said Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“The plexiglass will go away, but attention to air quality, water quality, lighting and acoustics will remain,” said Allen.
According to designers, the pandemic has fueled companies’ interest in redesigning the workspace to simulate nature, better air filtration systems, and use more environmentally friendly materials.
“Covid-19 has increased our corporate customers’ interest in health and wellness. These are inextricably linked with environmentally friendly work,” said Gail Napell, sustainability specialist and a leader in design resilience at Gensler architecture firm.
Napell said the company’s projects aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and creating a healthier workspace have accelerated.
“We believe our goals will create great places for people and for the habitability and health of the planet. At this point in history, this is essential. We are where we are,” said Napell. “The real estate community has the opportunity to achieve an enormously positive global climate and wellbeing.”
The Titan Student Union on the Cal State Fullerton campus has a central triple-height atrium that is almost entirely lit with natural light, with skylights and other sustainable features like a cool roof, sun protection, daylight sensors, and an HVAC system.
Steinberg Hart and Lawrence Anderson
Companies are increasingly turning to biophilic design – the concept of harnessing the health benefits of nature inside while reducing energy costs and improving the health and performance of employees.
“The basic theory of biophilic design is to enjoy the richness and complexities of nature and use the amazing ecosystem as a stress-reducing tool to improve our lives,” said Rick Cook, founder of CookFox, a Manhattan based Architecture office that works on sustainability and green spaces in the design of buildings.
“We found that people have higher cognitive performance when you take these ideas into account,” continued Cook. “We initially tried to make buildings and rooms better for the environment. We came across how we can improve buildings for people in a quantifiable manner.”
The biophilic concepts include the integration of green walls in plants, which help to purify the air. natural materials like wood in rooms; Indoor water features such as ponds and waterfalls; and circadian lights that provide different color temperatures to keep the body’s clock in harmony, such as B. Brighter white lighting to mimic daylight.
“All of these things were already on the rise. Covid-19 happened and no one could have been prepared for it,” Cook said. “Now the outdoor option will be higher demand and high quality air filtration – people will pay a lot more attention to that.”
Shown is an energy-efficient LED module that complements a main ceiling lighting system that is set to circadian rhythms. Lights that have different color temperatures and intensities throughout the day help to keep the body’s internal clock in harmony.
Americans spend over 90% of their lives indoors with air pollution is up to five times worse than outdoor pollution, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor pollutants such as smoke, dust, mold and chemicals from certain paints, detergents and building materials are particularly harmful.
Research shows that offices have artificial lighting, missing windows and poor ventilation generate more stress for employees and impair the ability to make decisions, according to the research results published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
However, working in a room with natural light promotes productivity and mental health, and workers exposed to natural light in offices sleep better because the light improves their daily rhythm. according to the research results published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
“Covid-19 has accelerated the healthy building movement,” Allen said. “Every sector is now talking about what it needs to do for indoor health, Covid-19, the transmission of infectious diseases and beyond.”
The pandemic has also put the spotlight on the construction of new spaces that can be adapted to changing workplace norms and the need for more sustainable buildings to mitigate Climate change.
Asheshh Saheba, managing partner of Steinberg Hart architecture firm in San Francisco, said his company had been working to design buildings with parking and garage structures that can adapt to changing commuting habits as the pandemic has strengthened transportation practices that are beneficial to the population better are the environment, such as cycling and hiking.
Buildings also adapt to demand for more outdoor workspaces, such as B. Terraces, and the widespread expectation that employees will become more mobile after the pandemic is contained.
“Being in an office and stepping out onto the terrace – this interaction with nature has been missing in office building design for some time,” Saheba said.
“We are blurring the line between work and home,” he added. “Your office doesn’t have to be locked at your desk.”
The DCI Engineers office in San Francisco uses sustainable and natural materials such as cross laminated timber and underlines the visual connection with nature through curated viewing corridors to the Bay of San Francisco.
Steinberg Hart / Vittoria Zupicich
Contractors are also turning to more sustainable and natural materials such as solid wood or solid wood panels, rather than concrete or steel, which emit more carbon dioxide.
Offices built with more solid wood store carbon and offset greenhouse gas emissions, reduce labor resources and create bright and natural interiors that can have a positive impact on the health of the people who work there, including by improving the biophilic design.
“The environment feels different, surrounded by a room made of a natural material, wood. With these materials, there is a feeling of warmth,” Saheba said.
“People who work or live in such an environment are more likely to have fewer sick days and are also more likely to feel like they are still connected to the outside world,” he continued.
One way to add nature to an office space is to add indoor plants, like the CookFox Architects’ Manhattan office did here.
When people eventually return to offices after Covid-19, a major challenge for designers is to bring in more outside air and better ventilate office buildings without increasing the building’s energy consumption.
Modern office buildings usually have tightly closed windows to increase energy efficiency. This is a positive design for the environment, but one that traps and circulates air pollutants. A problem that builders are increasingly addressing due to Covid-19.
“For a long time we built hermetically sealed office buildings that kept us outside and inside,” Saheba said. “What we discovered about the pandemic in particular is that a hermetically sealed environment presents us with a certain challenge.”
Marta Schantz, senior vice president of the Greenprint Center for Building Performance at the Urban Land Institute, said Covid-19 has increased the demand for high quality air filters in ventilation systems and more elevator use due to social distancing requirements.
“With the big push towards healthier buildings, there is a risk that it will use more energy in the building,” she said. “The real estate market is still working on balancing the need for extremely healthy buildings with extremely sustainable buildings.”