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    Green Cities 2015: people know more about cars than how buildings affect health and work performance

    Nathan Johnson

    A round up of the recent Green Cities 2015 conference by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) concludes that the effect of a building’s performance on people’s health and their work performance needs greater public promotion.

    Architect and Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Vivian Loftness was on hand to make two keynote addresses at the event, both of which addressed the deeply-linked financial, environmental and human benefits to good design choices.

    Her Green Cities keynotes, “High Performance Buildings” and “The real deal: buildings that boost financial, natural and human capital” both emphasised that buildings should not be seen as cost centres, but rather enablers of productivity, and that investment in good Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) should be more of a reality.

    HASSELL’s Head of Knowledge and Sustainability Brett Pollard also chimed in on the conversation, saying that the research and evidence from academic experts such as Professor Vivian Loftness was adequate, however her message was still not getting through to people who are procuring buildings.

    “Ultimately if you construct a building that does not take advantage of the evidence, organisations and businesses are missing out on the opportunity to create workplaces that are healthier and more effective,” he said.

    Lauren Haas, Australasia Sustainability Manager for Brookfield Multiplex also added:

    “For business, a low performance building can mean disengaged employees with low performance, higher levels of absenteeism and many thousands of dollars wasted per year in lost productivity.If office workers, students or patients in hospitals are more informed about what can be achieved through high performance buildings they can help drive demand for these buildings.”

    The underlining theme of Loftness’ keynotes and workshop was how to practically overcome the challenge of establishing an irrefutable business case for investment in buildings with high IEQ.

    Lester Partridge, Industry Director - Building Engineering at AECOM took part in the workshops and said that he found Loftness’ comparisons in the decision making processes for a car, laptop and a building as particularly helpful.

    “Vivian Loftness showed us a very powerful example in the workshop by comparing the decision making processes for a car, laptop and a building.”

    “People know more about the features of a car which may only be owned for 3-5 years or a laptop which might last 2 or 3 years than they do about the features of a building that will last in excess of 30 years.”

    “The conversation about high performance buildings needs to change and people need to be more aware of the true cost of buildings.”

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