Building 4 People: People Centric Buildings for European Citizens


Building 4 People: People Centric Buildings for European Citizens

Friday, February 16, 2018
/ By:
Kristen Coco

In the News

Buildings 2030, a non-profit platform funded by the European Climate Foundation, is pleased to release a white paper that describes a “state of the art” for the debate about healthy, comfortable and productive buildings by looking at both policy and market dimensions. IWBI is a strategic partner of the Buildings 2030 initiative.

In order to meet the COP21 Paris Agreement goals and European Union’s 2030 climate and energy targets, Buildings 2030 believes that a strong focus on people will contribute to increasing the rate of renovation in Europe and bring concrete benefits to all Europeans.

The broad alignment of environmental and health agendas presents an opportunity not only to invest in better-performing buildings, but also to improve the quality of life for people using these buildings. We call this approach “Building 4 People.”

Explore our top takeaways from the whitepaper or read on to download the full report:

  1. Focus on Buildings: Approximately 35% of the EU’s buildings are older than 50 years1 and it is estimated that over 70% of the existing buildings will still be in use by 20502, which means that focusing on highly efficient new construction alone will not suffice in order to reach the 2030 goals and 2050 ambitions set by the EU. Instead, plans for efficient buildings need to include retrofitting existing buildings.

  2. Buildings and People in European Policy: The European Union has demonstrated leadership in fighting climate change, promoting the energy transition and creating new opportunities for European citizens through the circular economy. The EU played a key role in developing and achieving the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, and each Member State has individually signed or ratified the accord. EU’s 2030 climate and energy goals (currently under discussion) encompass a commitment to a 40% greenhouse gas reduction, 27% improvement in energy efficiency and attainment of a 27% share in renewable energy.

  3. Thinking Beyond Energy Savings: The energy efficiency community is recognizing that the transition to high performing buildings3 will not be driven by energy savings alone; instead it must be approached through a people-centric perspective. People do not usually ‘buy’ energy efficiency; instead they tend to solve a problem or seek an emotionally-charged benefit, e.g. comfort, safety, pleasure, privacy, etc. Thus, the multiple benefits of a good energy strategy (impacting comfort, health, productivity, etc.4), rather than the energy strategy itself, are key in increasing demand for energy efficiency in buildings.

  4. The Link Between Health, Well-being and Productivity: The built sector must adapt to the changing needs, desires and drivers of building users. This is an opportunity to not only boost the investments in better performing buildings, but also to improve the quality of life for people using these buildings. There is a statistically significant relationship between successful health and productivity programmes championed by Human Resources and business profitability – improved business outcomes; lower medical expenses; better task effectiveness; and reductions of wasted time – all of which lead to higher return on sales5.

  5. Challenges and Opportunities: We need to embrace the fact that meeting 2030 climate goals and making buildings more energy efficient is not enough. There must be a strong focus on people living and working in these buildings. The challenges ahead can be grouped in the following four categories:

  • Lack of political and market awareness.

  • Lack of a clear definition and commonly accepted metric of health, well-being and productivity considerations.

  • The need to bring together architects, engineers, developers, building owners, health advocates and investors to affect a meaningful change.

  • Increasing consumer expectations and sub-adequate consumer engagement strategies.

Buildings 2030 intends to respond to these challenges by acting as an umbrella initiative bringing various stakeholders to the table to raise political and market awareness of health, well-being and productivity in buildings.



1. European Commission. energy-efficiency/buildings

2. Energy Efficiency Financial Institution Group (EEFIG). 2015. “Energy Efficiency – the first fuel for the EU Economy How to drive new finance for energy efficiency investments.”

3. In our view, a high performing building is one that minimizes environmental footprint and contributes to health, wellbeing and productivity of people living and working inside. Nowadays, people expect dynamic buildings that offer flexibility for both work and leisure.

4. European Environment Agency. 2013. “Achieving energy efficiency through behaviour change: what does it take?”

5. Linking Workforce Health To Business Performance Metrics. s.l. : Integrated Benefits Institute, Gifford, Brian. 2015