Elements that contribute to healthy building design

V. Loftness, B. Hakkinen, O.C.G. Adan, A. Nevalainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)
395 Downloads (Pure)


Abstract Background: The elements that contribute to a healthy building are multifactorial and can be discussed from different perspectives. Objectives: We present three viewpoints of designing a healthy building: the importance of sustainable development, the role of occupants for ensuring indoor air quality, and ongoing developments related to indoor finishes with low chemical emissions and good fungal resistance. Discussion: Sustainable design rediscovers the social, environmental, and technical values of pedestrian and mixed-use communities, using existing infrastructures including "main streets" and small-town planning principles and recapturing indoor–outdoor relationships. This type of design introduces nonpolluting materials and assemblies with lower energy requirements and higher durability and recyclability. Building occupants play a major role in maintaining healthy indoor environments, especially in residences. Contributors to indoor air quality include cleaning habits and other behaviors ; consumer products, furnishings, and appliances purchases, as well as where and how the occupants use them. Certification of consumer products and building materials as low-emitting products is a primary control measure for achieving good indoor air quality. Key products in this respect are office furniture, flooring, paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants, wall coverings, wood products, textiles, insulation, and cleaning products. Finishing materials play a major role in the quality of indoor air as related to moisture retention and mold growth. Conclusions: Sustainable design emphasizes the needs of infrastructure, lower energy consumption, durability, and recyclability. To ensure good indoor air quality, the product development for household use should aim to reduce material susceptibility to contaminants such as mold and should adopt consumer-oriented product labeling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-970
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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