Imagine buildings that foster net-positive health and happiness. Buildings that can actually make us healthier and feel better from working or living in them – sounds great doesn’t it? Well that was the theme of last month’s Green Vision “Health & Happiness” seminar where we welcomed around 20 industry professionals to Squire Patton Boggs in Leeds to explore some of the new thinking correlating building design with health.

First to speak was Green Vision chair, Martin Brown, who gave an overview of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) performance standard and the LBC UK collaborative who have been hosting workshops for over a year now outlining the requirements of the standard and the seven tranches (known as petals) by which a building can be assessed against. The Living Building Challenge is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard & calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. There are 7 ‘petals’ within the standard; place, water, beauty, materials, energy, equity & health and happiness. Find out more about the Living Building Challenge UK collaborative here and contact us if you wish to get involved.

We also welcomed Victoria Lockhart , Wellbeing & Sustainability expert at Arup Associates who introduced the International Wellbuilding standard of which Arup is the first organisation outside of the USA to support.  The WELL Building Standard®, administered by the International WELL Building Institute™ is an evidenced based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and wellbeing. The standard is third-party certified by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which administers the LEED certification program and the LEED professional credentialing program. As with the Living Building Challenge, the standard provides a structured framework against which projects can optimise their impacts on human health, with performance requirements defined across seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

WellBuildingimage sourced from Arup Associates here

Finally, in a slight change of tone for the seminar, but of no less importance, we welcomed Elliot Cohen, Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University to talk about mindfulness. There are many different descriptions of mindfulness out there but perhaps the best one comes from bemindful.co.uk who describe it as

“an integrative, mind–body-based approach that can help you manage your thoughts and feelings, and change the way you relate to experiences. The practise of Mindfulness helps/teaches us to pay attention to the present moment without judgement, using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them. Practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration, and improve relationships.”

Anyone can practice mindfulness as Elliot ably demonstrated with a series of short breathing exercises with the assembled. Why is mindfulness important to building design? Well, people are critical to good building design & studies have shown that mindfulness can be one of key drivers for fostering behavioural change & collaboration in teams. Not to mention the obvious health benefits of helping us to destress,  regain focus, be more effective and look at challenges more objectively – who wouldn’t want that?

Check out our short storify of the event below. Anyone who is interested in viewing the slides for this event, please send an email to ckeevents@leedsbeckett.ac.uk and we will send you the link.