Depression, overweight, diabetes: all these illnesses have been linked to the indoor environment

The dogma of sustainability is still booming in the construction world, but, there is also increasing interest for the human dimension: the effect of an indoor climate on the comfort and health of building users. That is where there is still a lot to be gained, says Professor Philomena Bluyssen of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Bluyssen has been researching the effects of the indoor environment on our health and comfort for approximately thirty years. Deerns spoke to Bluyssen in the brand new SenseLab of the Delft University of Technology, a state-of-the-art room where research is carried out into all kinds of factors that affect the indoor environment, of which light, sound, thermal indoor climate and air quality are the most important.

Depression and overweight

The influence of the indoor climate must not be underestimated. Health problems caused by bad air quality, acoustics, exposure or building materials are very diverse, from relatively innocent to life threatening, says Bluyssen. Bluyssen writes about this in her two books: The Healthy Indoor Environment – How to assess occupants’ well-being in buildings and The Indoor Environment Handbook - How to Make Buildings Healthy and Comfortable. In her books she identifies, among other things, how people respond to living and working conditions, and how adjustment of the parameters for this can lead to improvement of the indoor environment.

Integrated approach

In the SenseLab research can be carried out into the perception of parameters such as light, sound, temperature and air, and their interactions with people. The criteria for the indoor environment can be tightened and be adapted more at a local or individual level. Bluyssen proposes a multiple approach; a combination of research and design of the indoor environment. People play a crucial role in this and therefore the lab can be transformed into different practical situations, including a classroom, an office or a bedroom. Because regarding one aspect of the indoor environment of these rooms the professor is clear: “It has to improve.”

7 November 2017


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