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Healthy Buildings

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Healthy Buildings

How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity

Harvard UP,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Working environments affect employee health and performance. Boost your building’s health to reap financial benefits.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Eye Opening
  • Inspiring


Successful companies understand that investing in a healthy environment helps their workforce perform at its best, which, in turn, benefits the organization’s bottom line. In Healthy Buildings, Dr. Joseph Allen and John Macomber share their expertise in public health, business and forensic investigation by detailing the nine foundations of a “Healthy Building,” including practices to increase ventilation, improve air quality and reduce exposure to indoor pollutants.


Outdoor air pollution garners considerable attention for its adverse health effects.

People spend roughly 90% of their time indoors. Engineers, designers and facility managers focus indoor space planning on areas such as sanitation, electrical wiring, fire safety and aesthetics. They pay far less attention to the actual air quality in those spaces. Studies show that improving indoor environments boosts people’s health and well-being. Students, for example, improve their test scores and miss fewer school days in well-ventilated school buildings. Workers, likewise, show increased productivity and improved overall health following a decline in indoor air pollutants.

The infamous discovery of Legionnaires’ disease in 1976 exposed an uncomfortable truth: Inattention to a building’s infrastructure – in that case, cooling systems – can taint the indoor air and expose people to harmful bacteria and illness. To combat the risks associated with unhealthy indoor spaces and to create better conditions for work and home life, expertise in three separate disciplines must coincide: health science, building science and business science...

About the Authors

Joseph G. Allen is the director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard’s School of Public Health. John D. Macomber is a senior lecturer in finance at Harvard Business School and the author of more than 30 case studies on infrastructure projects.

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