Heather Benjamin

LEED helps support wellness through green building and communities.

LEED green building means a lot of things: increased energy efficiency, reduced waste, lower costs. Human health, an increasing priority in the sustainability world, has always been a part of LEED goals as well. At USGBC, we know that the places where we live, learn, work and play—indoors and out—must support our overall wellness.

The LEED credit category for indoor environmental quality (EQ) reflects USGBC's commitment to occupant health and comfort. The EQ category includes prerequisites and credits for design and construction projects, interiors, homes and existing buildings.

When it comes to indoor office spaces in particular, research has long shown that good air quality, ventilation, lighting, acoustics and thermal control lead to greater productivity and employee retention.

Going beyond the building, LEED for Neighborhood Development rewards design of more walkable communities with green spaces that bring neighbors together. In addition, among the performance categories measured in communities that achieve LEED for Cities certification is one for human experience.

Increasing awareness of human health

The LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance beta has made some changes to the LEED v4 prerequisites and credits to improve indoor environmental quality. For example, we have streamlined several individual credits into a single EQ prerequisite that requires projects to conduct an occupant satisfaction survey or an indoor air quality evaluation.

In 2018, USGBC premiered the "Built for Health" podcast to explore all the ways green building can promote occupant health and community well-being, hosted by Flavia Grey. The first episode focused on the impact of air quality—if you haven't already, listen to the podcast and then take the quiz to earn .5 CE credits.

Greenbuild sessions on health

At Greenbuild Chicago in November, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about human health. Here are a couple of sessions:

Communities and Affordable Homes SummitHealth Session 2: Building Vibrant, Healthy and Sustainable Communities for All

Tues., November 13, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Community design and development has a profound impact on community health. Explicitly health-focused design strategies increase the ability of green building practitioners and community developers to intentionally promote community health through their work. This session will bring together a variety of perspectives to discuss health-promoting, sustainable community development.

LEED and Human Health

Wed., November 14, 4:30–6:30 p.m.

LEED projects protect the health of people across the globe via macro-level strategies and building-level strategies. LEED incorporates strategies targeted at improving the health specifically of the occupants in the building by optimizing indoor air quality, material impacts, lighting, biophilia, sound and other parameters. Learn how LEED affects our everyday lives and improves health and wellness, reviewing 10 case studies.

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