Judith Heerwagen noted that current research on green buildings happens in a stovepipe fashion. For example, people who study noise typically do not study other dimensions, such as lighting. It is the intersection of such lines of research that is likely to be very important. She further noted that health has multiple determinants, some in the social environment, others in the physical environment. She pointed out that when people move into a new building, there are the placebo and Hawthorne effects to consider. Most research to ascertain the effects of a building is performed once the individuals have adapted. She questioned if there is valuable information in this phase of adapting that warrants additional research.
Craig Zimring observed that hospitals have research advantages that should be capitalized on. First, hospitals measure a multitude of outcomes that most other buildings owners do not. They routinely measure patient satisfaction, family satisfaction, rates of infection, error rates, and staff turnover. These measures are often made at the unit level, which facilitates comparisons between units of different design. Second, there is centralization in the healthcare sector. For example, large hospital chains and healthcare design firms can facilitate data collection and provide the opportunity to do controlled studies. Third, there is an opportunity to engage academic medical centers. It is ironic that innovation has been driven by suburban hospitals of medium size and not the large academic health centers.
Science has accumulated a body of literature to support green buildings, but the information is not complete at this time. Some participants observed that this is the challenge currently facing the sustainability field. Anthony
There is some uncertainty in the information, and the precautionary principal is often used. In many ways, we know enough to be concerned but not enough to make the final judgment on many of the attributes of building green.
Bernheim remarked that there is some uncertainty in the information, and that the precautionary principal is often used. In many ways, we know enough to be concerned but not enough to make the final judgment on many of the attributes of building green, he noted.
Concurring, Zimring elaborated by saying that currently available evidence does not yet support major design decisions. In other words, researchers can only state in general terms that building better buildings can improve outcomes. Researchers can support the concept of green design as a path to quality of care, environmental performance, or improved health, but they can-