The Value of Interior Environmental Quality

What is the greatest cost to a building owner? The answer is the people in the building, everything from salaries to benefits. A happy employee is a productive employee, and a healthy employee is a productive employee. That affects the economic bottom line. What are some strategies by which you can keep people happy? Give them a view to the outside, let them open and close their own windows, give them healthy air to breathe, let them adjust their temperature, lighting, etc. Consider how to keep building occupants, employees, and tenants happy so that they don’t leave and go somewhere else. It can cost upwards of $30,000 for a company to replace and train a worker who leaves voluntarily. And that’s a minimum. What are the costs of losing a tenant because the indoor environment is uncomfortable?


Consider this: The national average cost in terms of salaries and benefits per square foot per year is $318. The average cost of the rent or mortgage is around $20. The energy costs for the same square foot is $2.25. So the people are more than ten times the rent, and more than a hundred times the cost of the energy. Ask yourself if it makes more sense to make an investment in the indoor environment, especially good breathable air, or have a small savings in energy? Small changes in performance by people have a big return on investment, considering that the people cost 100 times as much as the energy.

Benefits of better indoor environmental quality include:

  • Reduced liability
  • Reduced employee absenteeism
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Reduced occupant complaints
  • Reduced vacancy costs
  • Increased tenant satisfaction and retention
  • Increased marketability of the property

Source: USGBC LEED Guide

7 Ingredients to Simple Design

I’ve found that some of the best and most beautiful designs are simple and understated. This approach to design can be easy on the budget, your time and your well-being, I recommend it for individuals working with at tight budget or a small space.

There are 7 key ingredients for simple and awesome: (more…)

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not thinking, interpreting, or evaluating; it is an awareness of perception. It is a nonjudgmental quality of mind which does not anticipate the future or reflect back on the past.

Any activity can be done with mindfulness. Talking on the telephone, cleaning your home, driving, working, and exercising can all be incorporated into a mindfulness practice.

Throughout the day, inwardly pause and become very aware of where you are, what you are doing, and how you are feeling. Try to do this in a way that doesn’t cast value judgments on your experience. For example, if you notice that you are nervous, don’t think “Oh, I’m nervous, that’s so stupid of me…” Simply note, “I am feeling nervous,” without evaluating whether it is good or bad. Just notice that the nervousness is present.

When mindfulness is the primary tool of meditation, the awareness that we apply to our breath (or to whatever our object–or focus–of meditation is, such as a word, image, sound, or physical sensation to which we return our attention after becoming distracted) can be expanded to include all physical and mental processes so that we may become more mindful of our thoughts and actions.

It is commonly thought that meditators hope to stop all thoughts and rest their minds in thoughtless peace. A common complaint of beginning meditators is that they cannot meditate well, because they cannot stop thoughts from arising in their minds. Actually, having thoughts is perfectly normal, and not a problem at all. In fact, it’s what’s supposed to happen! Dealing with thoughts is how mindfulness meditation works. When you notice that you are distracted by thoughts, gently bring your attention back to the object of your meditation. This is how you become able to relate differently to distractions and increase your ability to focus and concentrate.

Source: Contemplative Mind

Design for Wellbeing

New concepts in interior spaces are emerging as rapidly as the technology we use to work within them. We continue to research and understand the impact of or interiors on our health and well-being. We spend roughly 90% of our time indoors, disconnected often from what should be natural to us – movement, daylight and the outdoors. Sitting at a desk is both unnatural and unhealthy. Architects, designers and some business leaders are attuned to this and are creating buildings and spaces that support our more natural, healthier state of being.

Randy Fiser, CEO of the American Society of Interior Designers says, “We have now developed design tools that can help to bridge the gap between our indoor spaces and nature. This is accomplished by improving certain things like air and water quality, as well as acoustical, mental, visual and thermal comfort.”

In fact one of the newest trends is in lighting, organic LED’s that map to our circadian rhythms, offering a more natural response to our environment, our work and way of being. Fiser says, “Lighting can greatly influence our health and is critical to our biological functions. Light influences so many different parts of our bodies and even dictates our sleeping patterns. The introduction of circadian lighting that mimics natural lighting is really helping to ground us as human beings within our work environments.”

Basic design principles like harmony and balance when enhanced by elements of color, texture, and composition can promote calm, productivity, creativity and well-being. We all can make simple changes to our environment to create a sense of well-being. Some suggestions include:

  1. Focus on more human-centric design in lighting, color, composition and flow
  2. Consider the air quality and interior climate control
  3.  Keep it clean and free of dust
  4.  Introduce plants into the environment
  5.  Create visually calming and nurturing settings

For more ideas on how to create a space your well-being, contact us using the contact tab in the bottom right section of this post. And let me know what you think about this article.


Mindful Mondays

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of what we are doing, thinking and feeling and not become overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.  –

Several months ago, I assumed responsibility for leading mindfulness sessions for a small group of co-workers in my office. Mindful leadership has always been a subject of interest to me because of the positive impact great leaders can have in an organization, in their communities and in our world. I think every company has a responsibility to develop ‘good’ leaders who can also be good followers. Positive workplace experiences depend on this juxtaposition. 

Both science and experience demonstrate how being mindful brings positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. With some guidance and training, mindfulness can develop into a way of living that brings greater focus and effectiveness as well as kindness and caring into everything we do.

Google believes that these mindfulness programs teach emotional intelligence, which helps people better understand their colleagues’ motivations. They also boost resilience to stress and improve mental focus. Participants of the “Search Inside Yourself” program report being calmer, more patient, and better able to listen. They also say the program helped them better handle stress and defuse emotions.

What distinguishes great leaders from mediocre managers? Exceptional leaders are compassionate and lead from empathy. They are authentic, focused and genuinely as interested in the growth of individuals as they are in the growth of their organization. Great leaders excel not just through skill and smarts, but by connecting and collaborating with others.

From: “Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion” (Hardcover), by Richard Boyaztis and Annie McKee