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Does occupant health come at the price of building performance?

‘If building codes mandated the monitoring of IAQ, we would be able to create minimum standards for health, not just comfort,’ says Harvard MD; outlines work of Taylor Healthcare Consulting

| | Nov 20, 2018 | 9:00 am
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Dubai, UAE, 20 November 2018: There is a need for greater action from the public sector in implementing regulations related to IAQ, said Dr Stephanie Taylor, MD, Harvard Medical School, Founder, Taylor Healthcare Consulting. She emphasised the need for support from all sectors, as building codes have not incorporated the current information on health of humans in buildings. “Change is difficult and focusing on occupant health is a striking deviation from the current focus on building performance,” she said. Dr Taylor added that if building codes mandated the monitoring of IAQ factors known to affect occupants, stakeholders would collect more data and be able to create minimum standards for health, not just comfort.  “Given the exorbitant cost of healthcare, the frightening increase in antibiotic resistance and the epidemic of patient harm from new infections, these insights offer exciting new tools that cannot be ignored,” she said. “In addition, we are learning that the current focus on hand hygiene and surface disinfection to decrease transmission of infections will never be adequate, without considering the added dimension of indoor management.”

Dr Taylor’s insights are not only based on her experience as physician for over 30 years, but also, following her earnest concern on the role of the hospital building in patient infections. “When I tried to discuss my concerns with hospital facility managers, I quickly learned that there was a tremendous divide between building and clinical professionals,” she said. “So I returned to school to get a Master’s degree in Architecture.” Dr Taylor then founded Taylor Healthcare Consulting, a company which aimed to understand the intersection of indoor air quality, building design, and occupant health, and she now works at the intersection of architectural design, indoor air management, the microbiome of the built-environment and occupant health.

“We are finding that the impact of buildings on our health is more powerful than imagined,” Dr Taylor said, “Managing the built-environment and indoor air with the goal of decreasing diseases from acute infections to chronic inflammation to cognitive impairment, is a very underutilised yet powerful approach to disease prevention.” She added that physician insights and background in biological research helps her understand the science behind the interaction of buildings, human physiology and energy consumption. “With education and experience in clinical medicine, architecture and mechanical engineering, as well as a research background in microbiology and cell growth, it is clear that the intersection of these disciplines is critical for understanding the powerful influence of the built-environment, where we spend over 85% of our time, on the health of all of us,” she added. Dr Taylor stressed that by including human health, productivity and learning data as building performance metrics, in addition to energy consumption, stakeholders can design and manage buildings to truly support health, not just comfort.


Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com

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