Does the Whole Building Life-Cycle Approach Benefit Wellbeing and Productivity at the Workplace?

Several professions and disciplines have critical roles in creating the built environment that significantly shapes society, community, and individuals. Even though these roles have evolved over centuries, recently, owners, policymakers, architects, engineers, constructors, operators, and occupants are the major stakeholders in this process. The information exchange between these disciplines is immense throughout the life cycle of the built environment, and the use and operations stage comprise the longest period in the life cycle.

Starting from the ideation and conception of a building project, optimizing the positive interaction between humans, buildings, and their environment is a common goal of all stakeholders. Several research studies prove the essential need for this interaction, which is promising to benefit occupants’ social, physical, and mental health and wellbeing. Considering the workplace transformation with the hybrid and remote settings, several other spaces such as a cozy living room, designated home office, coffee shops, and libraries are also becoming “workplaces” for many of us. How do owners, policymakers, architects, engineers, constructors, and operators strive for a “workplace” that promotes wellbeing and productivity? The answer is simple and complex: “collective”[BD1] effort with a holistic approach.

Keeping in mind every stakeholder has their own goals and biases tied to their goals, collective efforts and collaboration in creating a built environment bring several practical challenges. Let’s remember the master builders, who were the premier leads in the design and construction of a project predominantly during the Renaissance. Improvements in science, technology, business, law, and regulations shift the master builder concept mainly to design-build in our modern world; however, we are still not in the phase of considering the operations stage of the built environment, starting from the ideation and conception. The reason is mainly because of the cultural trends of the architecture, engineering, construction, and operations (AECO) industry.

Digital transformation is promising to promote the collective efforts and holistic approach in AECO, but we still have a long way to go to integrate the whole building-life cycle approach to strive for wellbeing and productivity in the built environment. The cultural transformations require a long time and support from all stakeholders. Typically, the major changes in the laws and regulations expedite these transformations, like how Building Information Modeling (BIM) became mandated in government projects in the UK in 2016.

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Going back to the original question, if we integrate the holistic thinking of the whole building life cycle starting from the ideation of the built environment, does this approach benefit the wellbeing and productivity of occupants in the workplace? There is a great potential. The whole building life cycle approach brings various benefits to the operations stage of buildings, such as increased indoor air quality and daylight, better ventilation and thermal levels, reduced noise, flexible temperature control, improved ergonomics, improved water quality, and higher safety and security.

All of these benefit productivity in various ways: reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, enhanced mental health, increased job satisfaction, creativity, retention, better collaboration and communication, and positive company culture. In addition, green building certifications, such as WELL, promote the tools to assess health and wellbeing in buildings. Biophilic design, innovative and green construction materials and methods, circularity, and decarbonization efforts in every stage of built environment creation are promising in the cultural shift of our industry with the integration of a holistic approach. Let’s design better, construct better, and operate better for improved wellbeing and productivity… Buildings Are for People

Learn more about our Author: Dr. Deniz Besiktepe is a trained architect and currently an assistant professor at the Purdue University School of Construction Management Technology (SCMT). She holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering and Management from Colorado State University. She has 13 years of industry experience in construction and facilities management areas prior to joining academia. She is the recipient of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Foundation Academic Contributor of the Year Award 2022 and currently serves on the IFMA Foundation’s scholarship and fundraiser committees. Dr. Besiktepe’s FM research focuses on building maintenance, condition assessment, decision-making models, fuzzy applications, and implementing data-driven techniques in the FM area. In addition, she is currently teaching a graduate-level facilities management course at Purdue SCMT.

*Disclaimer: This post was not generated by A.I. It is indeed written by a real life human. A pretty cool human in fact.