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RICS release a new guide to make buildings worldwide healthier

RICS has partnered with Ekkist, the UK’s first health and well-being consultancy for the built environment, to launch a new guide to designing, delivering and managing healthier buildings.

A wealth of research [see below] shows how health is affected by a range of factors in the built environment, including noise, lighting, temperature, poor air quality and ease of doing physical activity. With people spending as much as 90% of their time indoors, designing for health can have significant benefits. For UK housing alone, research published by BRE found that the annual cost to the NHS of leaving people in the poorest housing was around £1.4 billion, with wider societal costs amounting to £18.5 billion each year.

RICS’ new guide builds on its International Building Operation Standards (IBOS). IBOS already goes beyond traditional measures of a building’s performance to include the experience of the people who use it; as part of this, the publication provides more advice on supporting people’s health and wellbeing.

The information covers every stage of a project, from the initial definition through to running the completed building. It sets out various ways in which planning and construction professionals can include features that promote health and well-being, or mitigate factors that damage health. This ranges from improving air quality to tackling loneliness.

Alongside the guide, RICS has also announced a new strategic collaboration with The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), whose WELL Building Standard is the world’s leading roadmap for creating and certifying spaces that advance health and well-being, already used by more than 44,000 projects worldwide. The organisations will work together to encourage built environment professionals to adopt strategies that advance health and well-being in buildings and organisations worldwide. They will place particular focus on integrating health and well-being into the valuation of properties, working to advance benchmarking, regulatory frameworks and standards, with an emphasis on the built environment sector in Europe. RICS’ new guidance has also been informed by the IWBI’s standards among many others.

Paul Bagust, Head of RICS Property Practice, said: “Across the world, millions of people will be relying on the expertise of property professionals to ensure that the buildings they use on a daily basis are healthy environments, while organisations will also be relying on the same people to provide productive environments with well-being at their heart.”

Olga Turner Baker, Managing Director of Ekkist, said: “Health and well-being has entered the forefront of forward-thinking companies’ agendas.

“Organisations have realised that designing for health is pivotal to their success. As a result, the adoption of global standards has grown.

“As one of the first companies founded globally to solely focus on this discipline, Ekkist has seen the change first hand.

“Certifications provide a common language that is credible and clear, they help mitigate risk and future-proof buildings against occupier trends, support organisations with frameworks for transparency and accountability, and provide results. They create healthier and happier people and places and add tangible social and economic value.”

Ann Marie Aguilar, Senior Vice President, EMEA, IWBI, said: “We are proud to expand our existing relationship with RICS, and to pursue alignments between the WELL Standard and IBOS.

“Our joint efforts will help to highlight the rising importance of health and well-being in buildings, organisations and communities, and how strategies to integrate health into the valuation process can improve ESG performance.”

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