Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The University of Arizona's Institute on Place and Wellbeing (UAIPW) has teamed up with the US General Services Administration (GSA) to carry out research that is providing GSA the data needed to develop best practices and policies to optimize workplace design for health. 

The “Wellbuilt for Wellbeing” study uses real-time wearable human health sensors and environmental sensors (from Aclima, Inc.) to monitor federal workers' heart activity, physical movement, and sleep quality. UAIPW and the GSA Wellbuilt for Wellbeing team are discovering how different office conditions and design elements affect the health and wellbeing of office workers.

This research has the potential to affect the lives of millions of office workers, and reduce the hundreds of billions of dollars that are lost each year in the US due to illnesses linked to the work environment. We spend 90% of our time indoors, yet little is still known about how different environmental conditions and designs affect human health and wellbeing, especially physiological health outcomes. 50 million workers in the US alone spend almost 25% of their time in an office building, and are at an increased risk of sedentary behavior, increased stress, and poor sleep quality.

As the nation's landlord for the federal workforce, which builds and operates 2.4% of all buildings in the United States, the GSA has the potential to be a global game changer for best practices and policies for setting and regulating working conditions.

Previous work on environmental conditions in the workplace concentrated on eliminating dangerous levels of certain gases and chemicals, a do-no-harm perspective. Yet the workplace has the potential to do much more - to be a space that enables a person to thrive, not just survive. UAIPW is at the leading edge of sensor-based design and health research, providing the needed information to design such health and wellbeing office spaces.

The UAIPW team presented their latest findings on November 9 at Greenbuild in Boston. Together with Kevin Kampschroer, GSA’s Director of High Performance Federal Green Buildings, UAIPW director, Dr. Esther Sternberg, and research associate Dr. Casey Lindberg, discussed their findings on the effects of office workstation design and relative humidity on physiological stress, physical activity, and sleep quality.

University of Arizona