New institute will find new ways to build healthy indoor spaces

A house with windmill and solar panels

A new institute in the UO’s College of Design is launching a new initiative to create buildings with healthy and sustainable indoor spaces.

The new Institute for Health in the Built Environment will draw from the expertise in three existing centers in the College of Design: the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory, the Biology and the Built Environment Center and the Baker Lighting Lab. Those centers will make up the new institute and represent four decades of sustainability research at the UO.

“The new Institute is very exciting, not only because it is an innovative collaboration between designers and scientists but also because the novel research approach seeks to synthesize human health and energy efficiency in the built environment and apply findings through an industry consortium of invested partners,” said Mark Fretz, associate director of outreach and assistant research professor in the Energy Studies in Buildings Lab.

The institute will collaborate with communities, cities, and academic and industry partners to develop new building designs and apply them in the real world. Faculty members plan to use unconventional collaborations to conduct research where architecture, biology, medicine, chemistry and engineering intersect.

People in the developed world spend 90 percent of their lives and 40 percent of their total energy consumption in buildings. That’s why decisions on how buildings and cities are designed, constructed and managed have significant implications for human health and the health of the planet.

For more on the Institute for Health in the Built Environment, see “New Institute Integrates Diverse Disciplines to Design Healthier Buildings” on the College of Design website.