Over the past 20 years there has been a remarkable shift in how we design and build buildings.  In response to a rising concern over the impact buildings have on our environment those who have even the most minute stake in creating the built environment are now aware of, if not directly influenced by, the effort to minimize the impact construction and operation of buildings has on our eco-system.  It has changed the way we think and the way we work.  Sustainability is now a real and achievable goal instead of some abstract and fringe ideal.

Initially we were happy to be less bad.  Then we realized that creating buildings that had zero impact on the ecosystem was possible. Now with the living building challenge ( we are actually creating buildings that contribute, or give back, to the ecosystem.  Think about that for a minute……..

We have actually gone from a Chartreuse green to vivid green in one generation.

This is a real and important paradigm shift that in itself is sustainable, as it should be.

Most of us are familiar with all of the various measuring/rating systems used to evaluate and verify that a building, its designers, its constructors and its owners are in fact building green if not sustainably. USGBC’s LEED being the most prominent and influential of those rating models

Unfortunately in PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s opinion the bulk of these rubrics and validation models are based on how well the building has been designed, built and/or how well it performs.  It seems that it is a foregone conclusion that if the building is environmentally sensitive then the actual occupants and users of that building will perform well too.   Hence the point of this thread.


We all get that buildings influence human behavior and for the existentialists in the audience we humans influence how buildings behave- I digress. The human/environmental relationship is clear and the evidence, both positive and negative is copious.  Architects and Interior Designers have been performing post occupancy evaluations for years but the data rarely results in widespread recognition or public outreach. The answer is out there.

What we need is a universal and uniform rubric or metrics…..and no I am not talking about some arcane research project in which the data is understood only by the research statistician.  We need a rating system that assesses how the users/occupants of a building, green or not, perform.  This rating system needs to be publicly accessible and pre-school clear- akin to the LEED certification model which uses valuable metals as a coding system.  It could be as simple as;




I will leave the actual semantics to you. I would also suggest that the actual award be something more substantial than a glass plate.  Just sayin’

This is a tremendous opportunity for the interior design profession. The USGBC was initiated by a group of concerned manufacturers and vendors.  They have the financial where with all to support such a rating system for human performance and user well-being. We are the ones with the knowledge and moral obligation.  So the idea is out there…..which one of our professional domains will grab it and run with it?

So how about it Steelcase, Herman Miller, Johnson Controls, Philips Lighting, Interface, USG……..and on and on….ready to shift another paradigm?

P.S. Like I said the answer is out there. The Center for the Built Environment at Berkeley (amongst others) has created the research inertia for a human performance/user well being rating system.  Here is a link to their research page;


1 Comment

  1. Do you think building owners/developers will be open to the possibility that their building does not make it’s occupants perform better or achieve a level of personal comfort or satisfaction?

    Probably not. Oh well.


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