The Future of UK Construction Part 7: Building for Wellbeing
The built environment where we live and work has a more important influence on our wellbeing than most of us realise. How we design and build our homes, offices and commercial spaces is therefore crucial to our overall wellbeing and in particular, our mental health.
The use of SIPs in construction can play an important role, both in terms of the quality of buildings and the quality of life within them. The benefits of using SIPs are many; they are energy-efficient, strong and robust, air tight and can speed up construction times as well as reducing costs. However, perhaps less well appreciated are their health benefits, particularly as when SIPs form the main structure of a building, the internal dimensions are significantly larger than in those using traditional materials. Living and working in a spacious area is infinitely preferable to being cramped for room.
Ensuring that buildings are properly ventilated with good levels of air quality is critical to our physical health – and our mental health too. SIPs are manufactured to ensure that they are incredibly airtight, creating a ‘sealed envelope’ within a building which limits incoming air to control ventilation. The panels filter out contaminants and allergens, allowing for incoming air to be dehumidified thus reducing the risk of mould growth.
The size and dimension of a property is another area where SIPs score highly. We need to build more homes – particularly affordable ones. Yet planners and local authorities are responding by allowing the construction of houses and flats which are arguably too small for occupants’ wellbeing. This approach is detrimental; small spaces can mean some individuals feel ‘closed in’ and stressed.
SIPs provide considerably greater benefits compared with traditional building methods using concrete and other materials. Concrete is less energy efficient and the individual blocks are much thicker, and additional insulation is required to make the building more ec-friendly. This cuts down on internal space. SIPs are insulated already and require no further materials to create strong, load-bearing walls; it is possible to create a larger internal building space conforming to the highest possible standards.
SIPs also eliminate the need for roof trusses. Buildings designed using SIPs can have taller ceilings, increasing the amount of light, providing further benefits to an individual’s mental health.
SIPs play a tangible role in solving the escalating rise in mental health problems by improving the overall quality of build and increasing the liveable space. By working together – planners, architects and housebuilders – it is possible to achieve the step change required through the use of sustainable and modern methods of construction; and improve our wellbeing.
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