Studies show that on average, people spend around 90% of their day indoors. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the indoor spaces we commonly use are beneficial to our health and well-being. In this article, we’ll take a look at how facilities teams can prioritize occupant health through holistic building design. But first, let’s take a deeper look at what it means to incorporate healing environments in a facility.
What is a healing environment?
Healing environments are spaces within a facility that reduce occupant stress and promote positivity. Therapeutic building design may include some or all of the following elements:
Exposure to nature (including interior and exterior greenery, aquariums or nature-related art)
Use of calming paint colors and natural lighting
Reduction of environmental stressors (including excessive noise, harsh lighting and poor indoor air quality)
Incorporation of comfortable furniture that can be arranged for social interactions
Inclusion of adjustable room elements for comfort (including dimmable lights and adjustable thermostats)
Why do healing environments matter?
Everyday stress can impact our bodies. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Healing environments are just one example of how building managers can influence the health of building occupants.
Can my organization benefit from a healing environment?
Any business or organization can benefit from healing-focused building design. Studies show that the following facilities, for example, can see immediate benefits from stress-reducing spaces:
Healthcare Facilities: Studies show that well-designed hospital environments can reduce patients’ anxiety and stress, accelerate recovery, shorten hospitalizations, reduce medication use, lessen pain and promote a sense of well-being.
K-12 Schools and Higher Education: Natural lighting can improve student performance in schools. One study showed that students who were exposed to natural light throughout the day performed up to 26% better on reading and math tests than those who were less exposed.
Religious Facilities: Healing worship spaces can support spirituality and social connections among congregation members. Many religious facilities choose to incorporate home-like building designs to reduce stress (including interior greenery, neutral paint shades, organic building materials and comfortable seating).
Corporate Offices: Offices that are designed with health in mind contribute to employee health and well-being, employee retention, lower absenteeism, boosted productivity, job satisfaction and improved creativity.
How can You Create a healing environment?
Facility managers and their teams play an important role in promoting occupant health and well-being. Each day, they work hard to deliver safe, clean and enjoyable spaces within their facilities. Here are five ways to deliver exciting, engaging and healing spaces within your facility for occupants to enjoy.
1. Incorporate elements of nature throughout your facility.
Studies show that spending even three to five minutes in contact with nature can significantly reduce negative emotions (such as stress, anger or fear) and increase pleasant emotions. Facilities teams can achieve these effects by installing windows for natural lighting and outdoor viewing, setting up an aquarium or hanging nature-themed art on walls.
2. Promote mental well-being with indoor greenery.
In addition to including natural elements in building design, consider incorporating indoor greenery throughout your facility. Plants are not only visually appealing, they’re also beneficial to human health. One study found that indoor plants can promote mental well-being. The study’s results showed that indoor plants can reduce feelings of anxiety and tension by 37%, depression by 58%, anger and hostility by 44%, and fatigue by 38%. Even one plant per room can provide a significant lift in occupant spirits.
3. Offer adjustable room elements to increase occupant comfort.
Adjustable room elements offer the option of personalized comfort to occupants. Some examples include dimmable lights, smart climate control units, adjustable furniture or window blinds. These items help occupants maintain some control over their physical environment which, in turn, can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
4. Take steps to reduce excessive noise levels in your facility
Loud noise levels are linked to adverse medical outcomes, including stress, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and reduced oxygen levels in the blood. Noise distractions can also cause cognitive performance to drop by up to 41%. Use the benefits of quiet, relaxing environments to your advantage. Utilize a sound system to play relaxing music, install a water fountain for calming ambient noise, or consider putting in acoustic control panels, soundproofing composite and rugs throughout your facility to reduce sound reverberation.
5. Paint walls with a calming color scheme.
Cool colors (like blues, greens and purples) and neutral tones (like beige, ivory, taupe and gray) are generally considered some of the most relaxing colors to use when painting a calming space. The right color scheme can have a soothing effect on the mind and body. Facilities teams should assemble color schemes that suit their organization’s brand, but also promote stress relief for occupants.
How does your facility promote occupant wellness? Let us know by leaving a comment below!