The ‘Healthy Building’ Surge Will Outlast the Pandemic

Read the full story in Wired.

Several years ago, Rachel Hodgdon, an expert in green buildings, was touring a new high school in DeKalb County, Georgia, when she asked teachers how they liked their new building. They loved it. The best part, they told her, was that they no longer went home each afternoon with the “2:30 headache.”

Hodgdon asked them what they meant. “They told me, ‘That’s the term we made up for how sick we feel after a full day at school,’” she says.

At the time, Hodgdon was the director of the Center for Green Schools. As she traveled to meet students and teachers who were moving out of older buildings and into more environmentally friendly ones, she was collecting all sorts of similar stories. Coughs disappeared. Attention improved. Absentee rates dropped.

Hodgdon had stumbled across an idea that architects and public health researchers were also beginning to recognize. Building improvements made in the name of sustainability—things like oversize windows and new, quieter HVAC systems—were benefiting the health of the people inside those buildings. The realization helped spur a movement in architecture generally called “healthy buildings.” Just as structures can be designed for the health of the planet, they can also be designed for the health of their inhabitants.

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