Health & Wellbeing

UKGBC’s vision for a sustainable built environment is one that promotes the health and well-being of people.

Life expectancy in the UK is increasing thanks to medical advances. But risk factors such as obesity and inactivity are growing, and people in more deprived populations typically have higher rates of disease. Mental health problems are a growing public health concern, with one in four adults in England being diagnosed with a mental illness at some stage during their lifetime. Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder in Britain.

Physical characteristics of the built environment can contribute directly to people’s health and wellbeing. Good quality housing conditions and greater access to green spaces and recreational facilities have a positive impact on health and wellbeing. Employers are also showing a growing interest in the health, wellbeing and productivity of their workforce and aiming to improve this through better workplace facilities.

Air pollution in some parts of the UK is high, particularly in towns and cities caused mainly by transport and residential emissions. This is causing thousands of premature deaths and respiratory diseases amongst UK citizens, and has become a major environmental concern for city mayors and local government. Data remains sparse in relation to the construction sector’s own contribution to poor air quality in urban areas. Indoor air quality is also a concern, and this is an area where technology is rapidly evolving so building users and occupiers are increasingly likely to make choices based on real data.

As interest in health and wellbeing continues to grow, the built environment’s role and contribution to it will come under the spotlight even more. Understanding the linkages between how our built environment is planned, designed, and constructed and people’s overall sense of wellbeing will be increasingly important.