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The industry event spectacular Ecobuild, held 3-5 March 2015, consistently presents a wealth of environment-focussed technologies, ideas and creative people. Its conference programme seeks to encourage healthy debate around some of the hottest issues within design and construction today.

This year we were excited to see that Wellbeing formed somewhat of a theme amongst many of the conference discussions and as leading supporters and Wellbeing experts ourselves, we were pleased to join the open panel discussion ‘Occupier wellbeing: How do we measure it and what does it mean for the property industry?’ that took place in the North arena on Wednesday 4th March.

Elina sat alongside respected industry peers: John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at the UK Green Building Council; Richard Francis, Director at The Monomoy Company; Ann Marie Aguilar, Associate Director and Sustainable Design Specialist at ARUP Associates, and; Michelle Moore, Senior VP of WELL Building Institute an American initiative.

The debate explored how advances in technology are redefining our knowledge of occupier health and wellbeing; on integrating these into design and occupant briefing stage; the potential impacts of wellbeing on property value; and how should the property industry respond to the attempt to put a value to one of the things that makes life worth living?

The discussion created a Twitter frenzy with listeners tweeting key quotes and take-homes from the speakers, such as “Wellbeing is the new climate change!” by Chris Brown of Igloo Regeneration. Richard Francis reiterated the point that “Health and wellbeing isn’t just good business, but serious business”, whilst Elina cautioned that it is “Important not to penalise people or companies who try to improve wellbeing but may not know enough about it (yet)”.

In order to leap the boundary of theory into practice, a reasoned method for basing design decisions on wellbeing must be found. Elina noted that “Some important things are hard to measure”… but…“Let’s start measuring the right things and the things that really matter”.

As wellbeing climes the agenda, we are gathering more evidence of the importance of the interior designer in creating a healthy building. The colours, shapes, material and textures we see and feel in the spaces in which we live and work – and how these are used and maintained – impact our productivity and overall wellness. As Elina noted “Until we involve environmental psychologists on design teams we will not be able to fully address wellbeing”.

For a more in depth discussion regarding the Ecobuild Wellbeing seminars, check out the article ‘Get Happy: Wellbeing in Buildings’.