New building movement aims to keep workers healthy

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New structures promise to actually keep workers not only healthy, but happy. (WLS)

They're called "green buildings:" office space focused on energy, waste and water. They aren't new. They've been around for 30 years, but today there's a new standard called healthy buildings. These new structures promise to actually keep workers not only healthy, but happy.

Instead of "sleek" or "modern," a downtown Boston office is being called 'nurturing.'

"I think taking seriously peoples' health especially in the work place is critically important," said Rick Kobus, co-founder of Tsoi Kobus Design.

"This space is new. It's fresh. It's got the views. It's got these cool lights; this great meeting area," said architect Mike Proscia.

"Look at our beautiful kitchen. It is a healthy space because you know we are promoting wellness," said architect Peining Lu.

"Even the plates are designed to encourage healthy eating," said Proscia.

And small plates equal less food which equals a better diet. Nourishment is one of seven ingredients used to certify a building healthy.

"Focusing on the occupants inside of the building rather than just the building performance itself," said Harvard professor Joseph Allen.

Since we spend about 90 percent of our time inside, Allen said that's why this new building movement is important.

"Things like air quality and lighting and noise and dust and pests all of these are going to influence our health indoors and we have an opportunity to create these healthier indoor environments when we control these factors," Allen said.

Factors as small as our chairs.

"Motion chair provides a lot of flexibility so you can literally swivel on it. You are supposed to move around when you are working; actually pretty good for your muscle," Lu said.

The healthy concept is new to Boston thanks to Rick Kobus' firm and others.

"And it was an important test case for us. We wanted to put our self as the guinea pig before we tried it on our clients," Kobus said.

Professor Allen said a healthy building means healthier workers who call in sick less, produce more and improve their company's profits.

"In fact if you factor in the cost of peoples' health the benefits far out way the costs," he said.

And this design movement isn't just for new buildings. Old offices and schools can all be converted into healthy WELL buildings. Today, more than 300 buildings around the world are seeking their well certifications. Go to for more information.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at

Related Topics:
healthmedical researchdoctorsworkplace

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