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Adapting Epidemiological Methodologies to the Prediction of Health Effects of Built Environment Interventions

By J.E.M.H. Van Bronswijk, L.G.H. Koren and C.E.E. Pernot


The influence of built environments on vitality and productivity of users is  paramount. Since the introduction of Industrial, Flexible and Demountable  Building, domotics, smart buildings, in general: mass-produced, intelligent and  learning built environments, tailored built environments are within reach. This  has resulted in the need for methodologies to predict short-term and long-term  health effects of different built-environment constellations. Epidemiology has  developed and validated methods to assess changes in prevalence of inflictions  and other unhealthy conditions, as well as the number of healthy and vital  years in a life span. After analysing the relationships among building  (services) parts and its combinations, health determinants (exposures) and  health outcomes, we could adapt the healthy years assessment (DALY) to  changes in construction (insulation, air tightness) and building services  engineering (ventilation, heating) for dwellings under Dutch conditions. The  most important conclusion is that natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation  and balanced ventilation not only differ in their average health effect, but even  more so in the size of the ranges of these effects. Other systems, such as heat  pumps or photo voltaic cells are expensive but will become economically  applicable when healthcare costs are taken into account. These outcomes gave  valuable clues for product innovation and opened the possibility to model  health in relation to built environments. The method could also be applied to  quality classification systems for dwellings.

Topics: Built Environment, Epidemiology, Health Prediction, Models
Year: 2004
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