Going further on our previous discussion on qualities a healthy building should possess, we would be focusing on the environmental qualities of apartment buildings and how it affects our health as individuals.
So if you have not read the previous post, I’ll advise you to go back to read so that you can have an adequate knowledge of what a healthy building is.
Environmental qualities are the essential strategic elements that should be achieved for a healthy building. They make up a general assessment framework that is applicable to all apartment buildings.
Based on the usual settings of apartment buildings, we identified eight key environmental qualities that contribute to occupant’s health.
Density: This may have a negative impact on their health as a result, high population density implies more frequent contacts among people. This may have a negative impact on their health. More contacts among people increases the chance of transmission of infectious diseases and reduced personal private space creates a stressful and overcrowding environment.
Light: The two sources of light which are artificial light and daylight are sources of light in apartment buildings. Daylight gives the tenants a sense of contact with the outdoor environment, a lack of which is found to produce suppressed feelings.
Air: Outdoor air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, photochemical oxidants and airborne diseases enter apartment buildings through windows; poor indoor air quality is known to have links with health problems. Since the interior of individual dwelling units is not inspected, locating the source of indoor air pollutants is difficult; however ventilation can help reduce indoor air pollutants. Therefore, natural ventilation is an important factor in determining indoor air quality.
Noise: In apartment buildings, noise mainly comes from traffic, aircraft, construction sites, and activities in adjacent buildings. Noise generated from building services is relatively minor and negligible. Very high noise levels, prolonged exposure to noise, and noise during sleep may cause irritation, mental stress and hearing loss. A number of studies also found that aircraft noise had a negative effect on housing values.
Thermal Comfort: This affect the comfort of occupants, very low humidity may irritate throat and nasal membranes, while very humidity may induce the growth of fungi. Room temperature also affects comfort, since indoor thermal conditions can be controlled individually by clothing, heater, cooler does not depends not so much on the settings of apartment buildings, but on the external climate.
Drinking Water: The quality of drinking water in apartment buildings is affected by the conditions of the fresh water supply systems. Poor design of maintenance of water pipes, tanks and pumps may cause unusual odour, discolorations as a result of rusting of pipes and contamination of water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1999) also identifies 87 contaminants that may pose acute or chronic health problems. There was also evidence showing that poor drinking water quality depressed property values .
Cleanliness: The cleanliness of common areas in apartment buildings and their immediate neighbourhood reflect their environmental hygiene conditions. An unhygienic environment not only creates nuisances to occupants, it is also conducive to pest problems and the growth of micro organisms which lead to the spread of infectious diseases.
Waste Disposal: In apartment buildings, there are solid wastes like household refuse and fluid wastes like human excretion. It is important to discharge them properly because wastes may contain pathogens and emit undesirable odours. They also attracts pest like cockroaches, mosquitoes, rodents and houseflies that carry and transmit pathogens to human beings.