On average we are spending around 90% of our time indoors, with 65 per cent of this time said to be spent at home. As part of our "Floored It" blog series Julie Haake, Key Account Manager for the Private Rental/Build to Rent Sector, looks at the various environmental factors which can have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of occupants.
With over 25 years experience in the flooring industry, Julie has a wide experience of dealing with large scale flooring projects across a variety of applications, working with Architects and Designers through to the Contractors and ultimately the End User. As the Forbo Key Account Manager for the Private Rental and Build to Rent sector, Julie is closely involved with major national clients, helping them to find the right flooring solutions for every aspect of their building.
On average we are spending around 90% of our time indoors, with 65 per cent of this time said to be spent at home . The result of consumer research carried out by UK Green Building Council demonstrated that UK consumers want a home that contributes to their health and wellbeing. In fact, over 30 per cent of homeowners said that they would be willing to pay more for this, with nearly as many renters prepared to pay higher for such a home.
When it comes to building and designing new Private Rental Accommodation, taking into consideration the health and wellbeing of future occupants should be a top priority. Although health and wellbeing clearly comprises a wide range of issues - and whilst designers may not have direct control on the determinants - by carefully considering various factors such as lighting, indoor air quality, noise control and thermal comfort in the design process of your accommodation, you can dramatically enhance the lives of those living within the property.
Good quality and well-designed lighting contribute to the appearance and identity of a property, as well as to the wellbeing of its occupants. There is widespread research on the health benefits of daylight and sunlight, and on an emotional level; people enjoy and feel a sense of wellbeing in daylight and sunlight.
Therefore, when it comes to planning the layout of the property, landlords should see where daylight and sunlight will be most useful or desirable for occupants, such as in living rooms or kitchens. And luckily, there are also floor coverings available that have high Light Reflectance Value (LRV) ratings, which means they will reflect light off the floor and brighten the space further.
Indoor air quality is also of significant importance within a home, as poor air quality can result in respiratory illnesses and other diseases. This is often caused by poor ventilation and the evaporation of volatile organic compounds (VOC emissions) from cleaning detergents and building materials, for example. Therefore, the first step to recognise and encourage a healthy internal environment would be to use materials and furniture which have low emissions of VOCs. For example, all of Forbo’s floor coverings, including Allura luxury vinyl tiles, Marmoleum, Flotex flocked flooring and Eternal General Purpose vinyl, are phthalate free and low in VOC emissions.
Another element to consider when it comes to indoor air quality is airborne allergens. With the floor being one of the largest surfaces within a building, it is therefore worth opting for floor coverings, such as Flotex or Marmoleum, which have been awarded the prestigious ‘Seal of Approval’ from Allergy UK, as with the correct cleaning regime, they will not harbour allergens or house dust mites.
With a report by Allergy UK estimating that there are at least 12 million people ‘allergic to their own home’ - with 58% citing house dust mites as a key trigger, the importance of interior building materials in creating better indoor environments should not be overlooked.
The WELL Building Standard has also been developed to revolutionise the way people think about buildings – with the flexible framework now starting to be applied to housing. It covers seven core concepts; air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind, and explores how design, operations and behaviours can be optimised to advance human health and wellbeing . Forbo has a range of products that can contribute to achieving this as by placing people at the heart, private rental landlords can enhance the health and human experience within rental accommodation.
There has been much work carried out on establishing the links between poor housing and ill health, so it is important to design a rental property that can positively improve the mental, social and physical health and wellbeing of your occupants.