Healthy Buildings, Green Buildings and What’s Next?

Its seems that every few years a new facility accreditation or initiative emerges green certifications, score cards or healthy building initiatives. Each promise to provide the latest technology and best work environments. Often facility managers (FM) and owners wonder if they should become accredited and if so, for what? After all, if we have a preventative maintenance (PM) schedule in place and a properly operating building management system (BMS), who needs more? In this post we will describe a green building vs. a healthy building and even an offering that encompasses so much more! If you care about the future of your facility and the people that inhabit it, read on.

“Green building” has been a buzz word for over a decade. We know it has to do with being environmentally friendly, but what exactly does that entail?  According to the World Green Building Council, a green building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life. As an FM or owner these “positive impacts” translate into both costs and savings. The costs are associated with the more expensive but sustainable/efficient materials. For example, energy efficient lights can be more expensive than traditional systems. However, with the dramatic energy savings that these lights provide, you could see a return on investment (ROI). In addition, many states or counties provide rebates that can sometimes cover all or a large initial cost for these materials. So, while you may need to pay more upfront you will have a facility that operates more efficiently and has less of an impact on our environment. In short, a green building is almost exclusively about the facility and its impact on the earth, not on the occupants. Now, this is where “healthy buildings” come into play.

Healthy buildings are gaining a great deal of attention with millions of people returning to offices, after nearly two years of COVID restrictions. What are healthy buildings?  Harvard School of Public Health defines a healthy building as one with good ventilation and air quality, a comfortable temperature, low noise levels, and natural light. With a simple description like this it’s easy to see how healthy buildings are primarily focused on a human’s wellbeing. With the recent advancements in electrically charged air filter technology and germ destroying UV lighting, there are many ways you can create a healthy building. With that said, it is important to note that many of these new technologies providing the “cleanest air” or “most natural” lighting come at a high cost. Unlike green buildings and their rebates, many healthy building features do not offer the same cost saving support. The real appeal here is create a workspace that keeps your occupants as healthy and happy as possible. There is no question, it’s worth it!

So now that we have the basic understanding of green vs. healthy buildings, let’s look at a control offering that supports both green and healthy environments, and oh, so much more! This offering from Johnson Controls (JCI) is called OpenBlue. OpenBlue is a complete suite of connected solutions that delivers impactful sustainability, new healthy occupant experiences, and respectful safety and security. It also offers features like social distancing monitoring and contact tracing as well as solutions for clean air, health monitoring, touchless buildings. Let’s take a minute to address the thought that came to many of us: it sounds like a big brother software…. social distancing monitoring, contact tracing, and health monitoring! The truth here is that the future is different than now, its sounds scary and intrusive but whether we like it or not features like these are going to be implemented, creating a safer and healthier environment. Fortunately for you, the choice is still yours. You can choose to decrease your carbon footprint, create a healthy facility, or do both.

All the options discussed within this overview can be enabled or enhanced by your BMS. If you would like to learn more or begin to implement these options, contact TC Controls from our website