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Healthy Buildings: Impact on Nurses and Nursing Practice

Author(s): Robin Guenther | Anna Gilmore Hall

Journal: Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
ISSN 1091-3734

Volume: 12;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: hospital design | nursing recruitment | nursing retention | performance | ‘green’ building | sustainable hospitals | sustainable design

Mounting evidence indicates that buildings can be a significant cause of human illness and environmental degradation. According to the United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health in the US. This may be related, to a large extent, to the fact that US citizens spend as much as 95% of their time indoors. Health care leaders, designers, and architects, recognizing the connection between health and the buildings in which much time is spent, are engaging in sustainable design and construction for healthy, ‘green’ buildings. The purpose of this article is to assist nurses in understanding the impact that unhealthy buildings can have on nurses and nursing practice and to provide tools and resources to assist nurses in transforming the health care industry with the goal of creating healing environments and reducing the negative environmental impact of the health care industry. First definitions, current initiatives, and motivations related to sustainable designs will be presented. Next sustainable health care design strategies, such as site planning, clean transportation, water conservation, healthy materials selection, indoor environmental quality, and also the benefits of sustainable design will be discussed. The article will conclude by sharing a variety of resources nurses can use to create healing environments in health care settings.
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