Health in the Built Environment


GBA Health Series


Each year, GBA’s Health in the Built Environment series seeks to draw connections between human health, buildings, and community design. This topic is more important now than ever and our series explores a variety of research, implications, trends and tools for stakeholders and practitioners in the built environment. 



2019 Health in the Built Environment Series

Our series in 2019 not only touched on a variety of topics, but was capped off in a cross-over event with GBA’s Social Equity in the Built Environment Series, in an effort to further draw connections between social equity and public health in the built environment. Events in the 2019 series included:

The Energy-Health Nexus: Energy efficiency and healthy indoor environmental quality have long been seen as mutually exclusive, but the two can be achieved together with the right forethought and strategies. At this event, we discussed decision-making when prioritizing each of these items, as well as tips and proven methods for achieving both energy efficiency and healthy indoor spaces. 

Navigating Health and Wellness Standards: While improved human health has long been an underlying premise of sustainable building, standards like WELL center design around the human experience. At this event, we explored industry trends, building standards like Fitwel and RESET, and credits within broader rating systems including LEED, Living Building Challenge, and Passive House.

Tools for Specifying Healthier Regional Building Materials: When specifying building materials for healthy and high-performing building projects, team members often face dizzying trade-offs. At this event, we gained insight into better sourcing strategies in addition to learning about some exciting product innovations in the building sector.

Healthy Spaces for All: Built environment practitioners have the power to ensure that everyone has access to healthy spaces. At this event, we explored core issues relating to healthy, equitable buildings and communities, and shared enabling policies and standards to help ensure everyone has access to healthy environments. 


Our 2019 Health in the Built Environment Series was generously sponsored by Sage Glass.


2020 Health in the Built Environment Series 

Our series in 2020 was hosted online and focused on topics directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other important issues. Events in the 2020 series included:

Implications of COVID-19 on HVAC, Indoor Air Quality, and Water Quality:
This event explored how COVID-19 is changing best practices for heating, cooling and ventilation, and what we can do to ensure healthy indoor air quality in our buildings. We also explored important considerations for monitoring water quality in a time when our buildings are shutting down and re-opening. 

Linking Mobility, Choice, and Health During COVID-19: At this event, we discussed issues faced by essential workers who have limited transportation and mobility options, and possible ways COVID-19 has informed future mobility planning in our region.

Healthy and Transparent Building Materials: This event featured building product manufacturers, an architect, and a contractor  who shared their experiences in creating and specifying healthy and transparent building materials. We also discussed the Closing the Transparency Loop movement which seeks to increase communication and collaboration throughout the supply chain. 

Green Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Best Practices for Protecting Essential Workers: It is critical to consider how cleaning and disinfecting practices will protect us from the spread of COVID-19 while minimizing other harmful environmental and human health impacts related to cleaning products. At this event, we discussed best practices for informed decision-making around cleaning practices as well as ensuring janitors, facility managers, and other essential workers are kept protected while managing cleaning and disinfecting practices in our buildings.

The Future of Building Design: How are robotics currently being used in building operations, and what is planned for the future? How do robots help decrease potentially risky jobs for human workers while also possibly limiting human exposure to COVID-19? What role does automation play in increasing touchless surfaces? At this event, we gained insight into local examples and applications for how these robotics are informing the future of building design.


Our 2020 Health in the Built Environment Series was generously sponsored by UPMC.