Improving Health and Wellness through Better Building Design and Construction

At this year’s Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), in partnership with 11 organizations, announced its new CGI commitment to developing “ASID Protocols for Health and Wellness in Design” that could improve the well-being of one million people through better building design and construction.

ASID will train 40,000 interior designers and architects across the country to use these protocols to create spaces that promote occupants’ health and to specify healthier products and materials. The protocols will encompass design, products and healthcare. Planned to be concise and accessible, the protocols will incorporate Healthy Product Declarations and Cradle to Cradle certified products, as well as evidenced-based, LEED v4, biophilic and active design principles, among others. ASID expects to beta test the protocols across multiple sectors as early as this time next year.

“There are so many design principles for interior designers to consider: evidence-based design, LEED, human-centric design, high-performance, biophilic, that we think designers can be overwhelmed trying to determine the correct ones to follow,” says Randy Fiser, CEO of ASID.

With the volume of elements that can go into a design plan, ASID wants to create an online resource tool that will include and embrace the varying principles and help designers know which principles to apply. “For example, a designer may want to use a natural product, but may not realize it will disintegrate and not support the lifecycle of the project,” explains Fiser.” In which case a synthetic or chemical-preserved product meets the projects needs and will not have to be replaced is a better environmental and project decision.”  The tool may assist with a solution that meets all the dimensions

“ASID has a history of convening multiple stakeholders on Healthy Product Declarations, LEED CI creation, evidence-based design and biophilia research,” said ASID CEO Randy Fiser. “Our CGI commitment aligns with the Society’s core business and strategic goals. It also expands our opportunities for partnership, learning and raising awareness about the value to society of building for health and well-being.”

Currently a number of factors — including the amount, complexity and multiple sources of information on creating healthy spaces — prevent interior designers, architects and the larger design community from achieving the necessary understanding to benefit fully from healthy design principles or to persuade their clients to implement them. (Recent research conducted by McGraw Hill Construction and supported by ASID affirms this conclusion. See (www.asid.org/healthybuildingdesign.) Resulting space and building design, therefore, does not offer the greatest opportunity to positively affect occupants’ health and wellness.

With 11 industry partners, ASID will create a framework for the resource by the first quarter of 2015 and will plan to launch the web-based tool by the end of the year, according to Fiser. “Real projects that followed from using the tool will be built and evaluated in 2016 by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS),” he says. For facilities and construction professionals, the increased demand by patients for environments that respond to health and wellness, means they will also look to the ASID industry resource in order to specify products and services for public spaces. “Using the right design principles,” Fiser adds, “They can achieve patient satisfaction, and generate a return on investment for the facility.”

ASID will convene a cross-sector, multidisciplinary group of leading doctors, nurses, healthcare administrators, interior designers, architects, engineers, product developers and suppliers to compose a single resource manual for professionals concerned about the built environment’s effect on people. For more information, visit ASID.