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Facilities management can have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of facility users. Of course, this doesn’t mean we are in control of their health, but we can influence a number of factors that contribute to overall wellbeing.
Each year, the WHO celebrates World Health Day, by bringing attention to a specific health topic. This year’s topic is “our planet, our health”, bringing awareness to the climate crisis, which they call “the single biggest health threat facing humanity”.
The WHO estimates that each year, over 13 million deaths worldwide are due to “avoidable environmental causes”.
While a large number of these deaths occur in the developing world, Australia isn’t without its environmental health threats.
In Australia, we’re fortunate in that most of the population has access to clean drinking water. We have effective sewage and waste management systems, which reduce exposure to disease.
However, exposure to air pollution, and some modern lifestyle factors continue to pose a threat to our health and wellbeing. By reducing our impact on the environment, we can create long term, sustainable change to foster healthier societies.
In this blog, we’ve listed our favourite ways to reduce environmental impact, while improving the health of regular facility users.
According to the CSIRO, Australia has the highest uptake of solar power globally. At the end of 2020, around 30% of Australian homes had solar panels on the roof. As the power source’s popularity grows in homes, businesses are set to follow suit.
Depending on what state you are in, there are a variety of rebates available.
Without solar, electricity is typically produced through the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of these fossil fuels creates air pollution, and contributes to global warming; both factors with detrimental effects on air quality, and thus health.
Studies have also found that solar adoption can help reduce the levels of nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxide, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
Many facilities in major cities have end of trip facilities, where facility users can shower after walking or cycling to work. The more people who walk, cycle or run to work, the better it is for the planet. Transport is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with roughly 50% from cars.
These greener commutes not only help to reduce our impact on the environment, but at a micro level, improves the heath of employees directly. Exercise is a major part of improving mental and physical wellbeing.
Adding greenery into office spaces was once purely a decorating decision. Over the years however, multiple studies (including one from NASA) found that plants in offices do far more than look good.
Plants have been found to help reduce anxiety, fatigue and stress, and help employees be more productive as a result.
NASA’s research found that plants in offices can help to remove chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia from the air. Effectively “cleaning” the air and leading to an overall healthier workplace.
Going as far to remove vending machines from your facilities probably wouldn’t be a popular decision. However, by providing healthy options, from local producers, provides facilities users with more nutritious options.
The less distance your food travels, the lower its environmental impact. Transport of food generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. By shopping local, you can help to reduce environmental impact, while improving wellbeing.
Plastics are one of the biggest threats to the natural environment, with indications that microplastics can now be found in human supply chains.
Most workplaces will provide reusable cups, cutlery and glassware for staff, to discourage use of takeaway utensils.
Unfortunately for businesses, plastic is not yet completely avoidable. For the plastics you must purchase, look to thoughtfully dispose of them. Local councils around Australia offer kerbside collection for recyclable materials. For soft plastics, look up your closest REDcycle drop-off point.
Natural light in your facilities not only helps to reduce the power usage from artificial lights, but comes with some interesting health benefits.
When exposed to natural light, the human body produces Vitamin D. This vitamin’s numerous benefits range from supporting mood, to reducing the risk of chronic health conditions.
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