Ekkist launches Healthy Homes Checklist to help tackle UK’s unhealthy housing crisis

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Ekkist, a specialist well-being consultancy for the built environment, has launched the Healthy Homes Checklist, a comprehensive tool which supports developers and designers in examining every aspect of home design.

The checklist compiles science-backed best practices to measure the health credentials of new homes and identify areas for improvement in design and construction.

Leading developers Quintain and FORE Partnership are among the industry’s first to commit to using the newly launched tool, which will be adopted with Ekkist’s guidance to measure and improve the health and well-being potential of their new residential projects.

The checklist comprises more than 130 practical steps across 12 categories that architects, developers and housebuilders can integrate from the design stage to construction and through to post-occupancy, ensuring that homes genuinely support the physical and mental health of those living in them.

Recent figures show that 6.5 million people are living in damp, draughty and cramped homes that are harming their physical and mental health. Studies have also shown that indoor air quality is often a great deal poorer than outdoor air quality, which poses a particular risk to those with respiratory conditions.

The comprehensive category list ranges from external and internal layouts to design details, through to toxicity of materials, furnishings and air quality, as well as feelings of community, comfort and happiness. In creating the checklist, the Ekkist team reviewed major health-focused building standards, frameworks, guidance documents and scientific research papers relating to health and housing design. After pooling this research, it was reviewed with key industry experts and stakeholders, including Michael Chang from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, Spire Building Services, Chapman BDSP, GIA and Sandy Brown.

This is believed to be the first time such a breadth of categorisation has been brought together in a readily applicable format, that enables developers to assess the cumulative impact that housing design will have on long-term physical and mental health. The Healthy Homes Checklist may be used as a precursor to building certifications such as WELL or the HQM, or to form the basis of design briefs and ESG strategies, or to identify health-focused USPs for new developments.

Ekkist co-founder, Olga Turner Baker, said: “Not only do healthier homes have the potential to improve the lives of the public and reduce burdens on the NHS, but we are also seeing them be more popular with buyers. We see healthy homes as a ‘triple win’ – a win for consumers, a win for housing providers, and ultimately a win for society as a whole.”

Ekkist director, Ben Channon, commented: “The sad truth is that lots of homes across the UK still negatively affect the physical and mental health of the people who live in them. This checklist will make it easier to design new healthy homes and retrofit existing houses to improve health outcomes for all so that we can provide new homes in both the quantity and quality at which they are required.”

Aurélien Collignon of B-Corp FORE Partnership, said: “A number of intersecting societal shifts are dramatically transforming what the buildings of tomorrow will look like – an increasing focus on well-being, the blurring of personal and professional lives, an ageing population and an epidemic of loneliness – all combined with the urgency to move to a low-carbon economy. We are committed to creating places that produce positive outcomes for residents in terms of health, well-being, and quality of life, while also being good for their local community and the planet. We share Ekkist’s passion for health in the built environment, and we firmly believe that buildings that prioritise the well-being of people and the environment will also be assets that generate healthy returns too.”

Clare Masters, head of sustainability at Quintain, added: “It’s really important to us to ensure we continue building positive, healthy homes for our residents. We believe that the Healthy Homes Checklist will be a useful tool in helping us achieve this, which is why we’re trialling it across more than 1,000 apartments for rent at Wembley Park, using it to assess the health and well-being credentials of the newly launched Repton Gardens building as well as two further plots that are currently under construction. We believe that building healthy homes is vital to creating places to live that are fit for the future and we are pleased to be partnering with Ekkist to do so.”

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