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Sick Building Syndrome and Sustainable Building

Question:

Describe how Sustainable buildings are better than sick building syndrome in terms of environment and financial?

In order to describe situations where building occupants suffer from acute health and comfort problem which is somewhere related to the time they spent in a building, but specific illness cannot be determined, there the term ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS) is used (Alevantis and Levin, 2011). The complaints or problems may be linked to a particular room or it may be regarding to whole building. In contrast to that sustainable building is playing important role in providing healthy and productive workplaces. It would be done by focusing on environmental sustainability and it further contributed towards improving health, satisfaction and wellbeing amongst building users. Due to the SBS and poor indoor air the problems like ill health and less productivity occurred. This project will compare how sustainable buildings are better than sick building and how it will reduce SBS effect and improving building qualities for their occupants.

To elaborate this comparison I will use Southwest Airlines’ San Antonio and Texas as an example of sick building syndrome and compare them with Melbourne Council house 2 which is good example of sustainable building. The reports of building-inspection obtained by TIME suggest that Southwest’s San Antonio center is a ‘sick building’ and it is concluded because its closed circulation air supply has been contaminated by toxin-producing molds and bacteria.

Melbourne council house 2 building

Sustainable building meets the present needs without compromising the future generations’ ability in order to meet their own needs. Three key aspects are involved in sustainable building and that are environmental responsibility, economic profitability and social awareness, just needed right balance between them (Hanie, Aryan, MohammadReza and Elham, 2010). The Melbourne city council building is lighthouse for future city developments. Melbourne city council house uses sustainable building design which enhances interior environment quality and hence it is conductive towards people health and productivity as compare to the building designing used in Southwest Airlines’ San Antonio and Texas, which indicate sick building syndrome. 

Melbourne council house 2 is an example of modern sustainable building and its features influences indoor environment quality and is discussed below:

  • The working environment provided by Melbourne council house to its users and staff is comfortable, adaptable and stimulating
  • It maximizes the use of renewable energy by using the present technologies such as sunlight harvesting; wind harvesting and rainwater according to the Melbourne climate complexities and due to following these strategies council house reduce cco2 emission to almost zero.
  • In council house building advance ventilation and mechanical system uses increased floe of air and thus reduced users and staff contact with air borne microbial agents (Kupritz, 1998).
  • The material and furnishing used for sustainable building development have low toxicity.
  • In order to enhance interior lightning quality and also to reduce energy demands day lightning is used increasingly. It helps to reduce computer glare is and to increase visual comfort.
  • Due to the sustainable construction contact with natural environment is increased by more open views to outdoors and also due to inclusion of plants indoors for psychological reasons and to enhance the air quality (Lee and Brand, 2005).
  • In sustainable building design for reducing build up of microbial agents, most probably in HVAC systems and construction materials, greater focus is provided towards construction, maintenance and operation of building.

It is evidenced that sustainable buildings are associated with the increased efficiency of resources and efforts towards preventing pollution can have good impact on an organization financial aspects. This is stated because it reduces legal as well as insurance costs which are linked with risks reduction beneficial to current and future generations, regulatory inspection load has been reduced along with enhancing community livability (Roelofsen, 2002). As a result of this changes relationship with stakeholder also enhanced. It improved the ability to market to pro-environmental consumers and reduce the operating costs.

Fig: sources of Indoor pollutants

An environment that is free from all negative and hazardous health contaminants is known as healthy working environment and it also reduces the safety hazards (Sandler, Schiffman Kymer, 2010). By providing healthy working environment to the staff their well-being and productivity will increase. Hence it is essential to proceed towards providing indoor air quality in workplace and this is the area where sustainable building tends better and considerable impact.

Features of Sustainable Building

The reports of building-inspection obtained by TIME suggest that Southwest’s San Antonio center is a ‘sick building’ and it is concluded because its closed circulation air supply has been contaminated by toxin-producing molds and bacteria (Shibata and Suzuki, 2002). Scientists and health officials called sick building syndrome as a disease of architecture because in sealed and energy conserving building contaminated air recycling is occur.  It is concluded by the Cornell University study 1996 that sick building syndrome drastically affects the employee productivity and employees constantly suffer from the headache, muscle pain, nausea, dizziness and fatigue problems (Stone and English, 1998).

Fortunately, cure for the sick building syndrome is exist and it is sustainable building environment and Melbourne council house is good example of sustainable building, which is much better and cost effective than the sick building syndrome. Hence focus has been diverted towards building green and prominent workplace, by considering health and wellbeing of people working there. The recognition is increasing which shows that achieving sustainable development in built environment goes beyond that and focus on sustainable workplaces (Smith, Tucke and Pitt, 2011). Many researches show that it is vital to provide official environment which influence employee wellbeing positively because disengagement of employees is increasing while looking Southwest Airlines’ San Antonio and Texas case.

Melbourne council house adopted sustainable building environment and their employees are found more energetic and show more concentration towards their work, which result in their productivity as compare to the employees at Southwest Airlines’ San Antonio and Texas. Council house employees also consider their work as a challenge instead of getting stressful.

According to Smith, Whitelegg and Williams, (1998)  it is needed to focus on root cause of symptoms of disengagement like distraction from the work, lack of interest towards work, poor skills of decision making and increasing the rate of absence. It is suggested by Thomas-Mobley, Roper and Oberle, (2005) that the workplace environment and its construction is main reason behind such disengagement symptoms of employees. Workplace satisfaction has been strongly associated with the job satisfaction and perceptions of workplace quality have significant effect on employees’ psychology.

Fig: Main Symptoms of SBS

Effect on employees health

Sick building syndrome is the main negative factor of buildings. This is phenomenon which had been emerged from 1980 and considered as major problem in many workplaces and residential as well. The environmental conditions for sick building have been created due to moving towards the air conditioned buildings. The complaints or problems may be linked to a particular room or it may be regarding to whole building (Tong and Leaman, 1993). In contrast to that sustainable building is playing important role in providing healthy and productive workplaces. It would be done by focusing on environmental sustainability and it further contributed towards improving health, satisfaction and wellbeing amongst building users. The symptoms shown by the occupants of sick building are irritation occurred in eye, nose and throat, skin gets dry and mucous membranes, rashes over skins, headaches, muscle pain, airway infections, dizziness, fatigue, itching and so on and it is also observed that these symptoms will get disappear generally after leaving the building.  

Impact of Sustainable Building on Financial Aspects

The solution towards it is using sustainable building options and replacing the toxic artificial materials, instead of those better quality commercial materials can be used such as sustainable carpets last longer. It will help towards improving the environment of workplace and as compare to product lives cost significantly considered as less. The sustainable building design idea is motivation for healthcare facilities, and construction and operation practices required to improve the indoor environment quality and will also helps towards improving efficiency and productivity of the professionals and all employees working in the workplace (Shibata and Suzuki, 2002). Sustainable building includes three key factors and that are environmental responsibility, economic profitability and social awareness and it is needed to make right balance between them. For future city developments the Melbourne city council building is considered as lighthouse. Melbourne city council house uses sustainable building design which enhances interior environment quality and hence it is conductive towards people health and productivity as compare to the building designing used in Southwest Airlines’ San Antonio and Texas, which indicate sick building syndrome. 

Conclusion:

It is argued over here that, every measures of building performance should have to take into account. Designing of workplaces must be considered as a strategy for productivity and building design directly affect on the employees productivity. As compare to sick buildings sustainable building enhances the employee well-being and their productivity is discussed throughout the paper. It is also concluded that, it’s needed to focus on root cause of symptoms of disengagement like distraction from the work, lack of interest towards work, poor skills of decision making and increasing the rate of absence among employee and the workplace environment and its construction is main reason behind such disengagement symptoms of employees.

Reference List:

Alevantis, L., Levin, H. (2011). “Materials-related IAQ.” ASHRAE Journal, March 2011, pp. 86-88.

Hanie, O., Aryan, A., MohammadReza, L., Elham, L. (2010). “Understanding the importance of sustainable buildings in occupants environmental health and comfort.” Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 194-200.

Kupritz, V. (1998) “Privacy in the workplace: The impact of building design.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 341 – 356

Lee, S.Y., Brand, J.L. (2005) “Effects of control over office workspace on perceptions of the work environment and work outcomes.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 323 - 333.

Roelofsen, P. (2002) “The impact of office environments on employee performance: the design of the workplace as a strategy for productivity enhancement.” Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 247 - 264.

Sandler, L.M., Schiffman Kymer, R.I. (2010) “Copenhagen Accord: Outcomes, Next Steps and Business Implications.” Environmental Claims Journal, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 144-149.

Shibata, S., Suzuki, N. (2002) “Effects of the foliage plant on task performance and mood.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 265 - 272.

Stone, N., English, A. (1998) “Task type, posters and workspace color on mood, satisfaction and performance.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.175 - 185.

Smith, A., Tucker, M., Pitt, M. (2011) “Healthy, productive workplaces: Towards a case for interior plantscaping.” Facilities, Vol. 29, No. 5/6, pp. 209-223.

 Smith, M., Whitelegg, J., Williams, N. (1998) “Greening the Built Environment.” Earthscan Publications, London.

Thomas-Mobley, L., Roper, K.O., Oberle, R. (2005), "A proactive assessment of sick building syndrome", Facilities, Vol. 23 No.1/2, pp.6-15.

Tong, D., Leaman, A. (1993) “Sick building syndrome: Strategies and tactics for managers.” Facilities, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 19 – 23.

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