'Well Buildings' keep employees healthy and happy

They are called 'Green Buildings'-- office space focused on energy, waste, and water--they are not new. They have been around for 30 years, but today there is a new standard called healthy buildings. These new structures promise to actually keep workers not only healthy but happy. Instead of 'sleek' or 'modern', this downtown Boston office is being called 'nurturing.' "I think taking seriously peoples' health especially in the workplace is critically important," said Rick Kobus, co-founder of Tsoi Kobus Design. "This space is new. It's fresh. It's got the views. It's got these cool lights; this great meeting area," said Architect Mike Proscia. "Look at our beautiful kitchen. It is a healthy space because you know we are promoting wellness," said Peining Lu, an architect for Tsoi Kobus Design. "Even the plates are designed to encourage healthy eating," explained Proscia. Small plates equal less food which equals a better diet. Nourishment is one of seven ingredients used to certify a building healthy. "Focusing on the occupants inside of the building rather than just the building performance itself," said Harvard professor Joseph G. Allen. Since we spend about 90 percent of our time inside, Allen says that is why this new building movement is important. "Things like air quality and lighting and noise and dust and pests all of these are going to influence our health indoors and we have an opportunity to create these healthier indoor environments when we control these factors," said Allen. Factors as small as our chairs. "Motion chair provides a lot of flexibility so you can literally swivel on it. You are supposed to move around when you are working; actually pretty good for your muscles," said Lu. This healthy concept is new to Boston thanks to Rick Kobus' firm and others. "And it was an important test case for us. We wanted to put our self as the guinea pig before we tried it on our clients," said Kobus. Professor Allen says a healthy building means healthier workers who call in sick less, produce more and improve their company's profits. "In fact, if you factor in the cost of peoples health the benefits far out way the costs," Allen stated. This design movement isn't just for new buildings -- old offices and schools can all be converted into healthy well buildings. Today more than 300 buildings around the world are seeking their well certifications. Go to www.wellcertified.com for more information.

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