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Homeowners choose energy efficiency & aesthetics over health
Aug 4, 2014

The need for greater public awareness and education about the impact of building and interior design on people’s health and well-being has been confirmed by a new benchmark attitudinal study put together by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and McGraw Hill Construction.
According to the report, nearly two-thirds of homeowners (63%) believe the products and practices they use in their homes affect their health. Yet for more homeowners, energy savings (79%) and aesthetics (65%) come before the effect of buildings on their health (59%) when they make design and construction decisions.

Sixty-three percent of architects and designers currently consider the impact of buildings on occupants’ health more important to incorporate into their design than do building owners (59%). Over the next two years, health is expected to become more consequential in each group’s decisions, however, research predicts many more architects and designers (79%) than home owners (67%) will base decisions on health concerns.
“There is a fundamental connection between our health and the design of places where we live, work, play and heal,” said Randy Fiser, Executive VP of ASID. “This research, which ASID helped to fund, indicates that designers and architects can encourage the adoption of healthy design practices and products by making the benefits clear and measurable to building owners.”
In the study, “healthy design” is described as building green with more sustainable elements being incorporated into the home, as well as proximity to healthy amenities including outdoor recreational activities, green spaces and parks, walking paths, and access to locally grown/raised food, which all promote better health overall. 

ASID and McGraw Hill Construction created an “Interior Design Data Excerpt” from the full report to highlight information of greatest interest to the design community among the comprehensive research findings.
According to the study, home and facility owners need more comprehensive data to support investments in healthier building practices and products. So it’s not surprising that credible information is the third most critical factor in design and building professionals emphasizing design’s effects on health impacts, as reported by 38% of those surveyed in both the residential and nonresidential building sectors.
In the nonresidential sector, greater public awareness, at 43%, and greater owner demand, at 45%, rank second and first, respectively. Similarly owner demand, at 63%, tops the list of factors prompting residential designers and architects to stress the need for healthier buildings. The second greatest factor is stricter regulations.
“The research in this report shows that interior designers and architects are leading other players in the focus they are putting on health in their work planned over the next few years,” said Harvey Bernstein, VP of Industry Insights & Alliances at McGraw Hill Construction. “However, they need these drivers to help their designs come to fruition.”

The study shows that the majority of homeowners are learning about being green and healthy design through television programming as well as consumer magazines. In an effort to boost education on the issue, designers are hoping for additional information to come from product manufacturers, whose green products can be directly incorporated into people’s homes.
This report is the first research project to unite the five key stakeholders in design— physicians, construction industry professionals in both residential and nonresidential sectors, HR executives and homeowners—who influence the prevalence of healthy design and construction practices in buildings.
Designers can Download the ASID Interior Designer Data Excerpt of “The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings” and learn more here. Access the full, "The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings: The Market Drivers and Impact of Building Design and Construction on Occupant Health, Well-Being and Productivity,” report here.

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