Fresh Perspectives: The Human Scale in Sustainable Healthcare Design

Oct 02, 2014

The healthcare industry is undergoing major changes, propelled by new models for delivering healthcare with a growing emphasis on wellness and preventive care. Sustainable design for healthcare is likewise evolving. There is an emerging focus on creating spaces that promote patient health and community well-being.

Traditionally, sustainable design centered on the building itself, concentrating on reducing a negative environmental impact or “doing less bad.” Now, sustainable design emphasizes making things better by promoting net-positive building performance and by elevating the human experience to improve overall health of communities with facilities that are visibly healthy.

While energy, carbon, water, waste, materials and land use have dominated the sustainable design conversation in the past, the human impact of buildings is emerging as a top priority for healthcare organizations, designers and community leaders. Individual and community behavior can be influenced to promote health and well-being by elevating design to prioritize the human experience perspective in healthcare sustainable design.

Within a healthcare environment — or any workplace environment — building occupants function on three basic human scales: individual, co-workers and community. Properly considering each scale gives a new look and fresh solutions that help shape the future of facility design and healthcare services.

Taking a human-scale approach to healthcare design assumes there is social and community aspects of sustainability, and further reinforces the concept that the buildings we live and work in create social connections that promote health. By breaking down the sustainable healthcare design process into the three human scales, it’s easy to see how each impacts the other. Asking the right questions can lead to better design and improved experiences for staff and patients.

Stan Chiu & Patrick Thibaudeau
Medical Construction and Design
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Medical Construction and Design

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