What is the value of a healthy and productive human being in a building? If you go to work with a cold, work slowly, and perhaps infect your co-worker, how much money has your employer lost? What are the unseen influences of your office building, hospital room, classroom or home on your health and performance? Despite the facts that we all want to be robust and healthy (as well as comfortable) and we spend the vast majority of our time indoors, these questions do not have obvious answers.
Some aspects of building design and operation are obviously related to our health and are consequently rigorously regulated. For example, a landmark event in the history of hospital building codes was a tragic fire in the Hartford Hospital in 1961. A lighted cigarette, thrown into a trash chute, sparked a fire on the ninth floor that spread rapidly. Patients and staff were engulfed by intense heat and black smoke that poured through open doors. Before the fire could be contained, 16 people had perished, including patients, visitors, and medical staff.