Reinforcing its commitment towards enabling sustainable buildings and workspaces across the country, GBCI India, India’s foremost authority on sustainability in building design, construction and operations, released a joint research study, “Healthy Workplaces for Healthier People,” in collaboration with Saint-Gobain Research India. The study assesses the indoor environment in Indian workspaces and the impact it has on building occupants, and highlights the correlation between indoor spaces and occupants’ health and well-being. The study revealed there is considerable room for improvement in Indian offices when it comes to maintaining a healthy indoor environment.
Spanning a pre-pandemic timeframe, the study involved evaluation of 30 offices located in nine Indian cities covering three major climatic zones, and included a mix of green certified and non-certified spaces owned by private and government agencies. Collectively, these offices had occupancy of about 30,000 people – 1,500 of whom also participated in an online survey as part of the study. Building data collected from project teams and professionals who work at the buildings along with onsite measurements and inspection and occupant feedback collected through online surveys were all analyzed to determine whether the buildings were delivering healthy and comfortable spaces.
The study evaluated important parameters such as indoor air quality, lighting, access to outdoor views, thermal comfort and acoustics that define workspace quality. Out of the 30 offices studied, only one had all the indoor air contaminants within limits prescribed by standards. Both indoor-generated contaminants and those entering from the outdoors were a concern due to the adverse impact they have on occupant health. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were the most common non-compliant indoor air contaminants, followed by particulate matter (PM) and formaldehyde (CH2O). Poor lighting and lack of access to good outdoor views from workstations were found to be other prevalent issues.
1,500 employees from the 30 offices studied also participated in an online survey. The aim was to understand how occupants feel about their workspace and how it impacts them. Occupant surveys are usually considered a basis for identifying problem areas and evaluating the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a space. However, the findings of the study revealed that critical indoor parameters like air quality and lighting were primarily unnoticeable by occupants. Despite poor lighting and air quality observed, 76% of people reported satisfaction with lighting and 68% with air quality, highlighting that occupants’ perception does not accurately reflect IEQ performance. This indicates how critical it is to regularly monitor IEQ performance and to educate occupants on its impact on their short and long-term health.