Think about how you spent your day yesterday. If you are like most Americans, you woke up, took some time getting ready for work, walked into your garage, drove to work, sat/stood/walked at your desk for 8-10 hours, possibly stepping outdoors for a 10 or 20 minute break for lunch, got back in your car at the end of the day, drove to the gym (good for you!), then drove home, cooked dinner, ate, cleaned up, sank into the couch for a few minutes if you were lucky, and then went to bed. Does that sound like a typical day for you? How much time did you get to be outdoors?
The average American spends 90% of their day indoors!
Generally, at least 50% of a person’s 24 hour day is spent in their home.
Statistics are boring, I know. But what all these numbers are telling us is that the healthful condition of our home matters. We’ve all heard of the sick building syndrome – a condition where building occupants are getting illnesses due to their time spent in that building. Many buildings in our country are actually making us sick, and homes are certainly included. A change needs to happen so that we can feel safe and healthy in our homes.
Wellness is everywhere these days from wearable Fitbits that encourage movement throughout the day to whole-30 food challenges that challenge the user to eat only healthy, whole foods for 30 days. We all want to be healthy and happy! But wellness in architecture hasn’t reached the masses yet, and it’s understandable why. The idea of changing up an eating habit sounds more attainable then revamping an entire building to provide health and encourage wellness for its occupants. But it doesn’t have to be that scary!
The WELL Building Standard is the first rating system to promote wellness for building occupants through design. You can read more about WELL here. The standard does a great job at making a building a healthy place but it comes with a hefty price tag. Most people can’t afford to follow the full path to certification. And wellness needs to be attainable by all.
There are plenty of small steps that can be taken to incorporate health and wellness into a home. Decluttering, introducing house plants and opening windows for fresh air are just a few easy things that can start to bring wellness into each day. As you’re able to do more, then it’s time to implement some bigger strategies such as assessing window placement to maximize proper daylighting* and ventilation, choosing healthy building materials and products, and designing spaces that promote physical activity.
We are spending 12+ hours a day in our homes. Do you want to spend it in an environment that encourages stress, discomfort and possibly illnesses, or do you want to spend it in a space that makes you relax, unwind from your crazy day at the office, and gives you peace of mind that you are in a healthy environment? I like option #2, and I am devoted to making the place where our lives unfold to be as healthy as possible.
*Daylighting – The use of natural daylight to illuminate an interior space.