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Why acoustics should not be an afterthought

Mar 19, 2018 / by Michael Eckert posted in Design, Performance, Health & Wellness

Think about the spaces you’ve spent time in today. What were your impressions? Maybe you liked the furniture and the layout of an office you were in this morning because it felt so comfortable. Later you were in a room with three skylights, and they made the space seem expansive. Wood surfaces and plants give your favorite lunch spot a cozy, natural ambiance. But after that you went to see your client with the very cramped lobby — also you always notice how it’s just too bright in there. It’s not your favorite place to visit.

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Leading LEED Material Transparency: Milliken Pilots a New Credit

Oct 5, 2016 / by Mollie Williams posted in Sustainability, Health & Wellness

Green building today encompasses a myriad of product certifications, building standards and manufacturing processes. Transparency tools range in focus, from environmental impacts to potential risks to human health – and it is no surprise either. People spend more than 90% of their time inside, where the EPA estimates that pollutants are between two and five times higher than those outdoors. 

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Can Your Office Design Beat Allergies in the Workplace?

Aug 10, 2016 / by Michael Eckert posted in Design, Health & Wellness

Allergens make a significant contribution to air quality problems, and can have a significant impact on employee health and wellness in the workplace.

When allergy season comes around, you can have an office full of people sniffing and suffering – unless you take measures to reduce allergen levels in your office and improve indoor air quality through specific design choices.

But it’s not just a problem in spring, when pollen levels are high. Every day, common allergens make their way into your workplace: pet hair, perfume or other cosmetics, cleaning products, dust, and of course pollen.

Here are four things you can do when redesigning your workplace to help improve indoor air quality andcombat allergies.

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How to Design a Classroom that Encourages Active Learning

Aug 4, 2016 / by Mike Brown posted in Design, Health & Wellness

A big problem is that traditional learning experiences are not aligned with how the brain works” – Andrew Kim, Education Researcher, Steelcase.

Active learning gets students involved in their classes – taking part in activities such as group projects or class discussions, rather than passively listening to a teacher speak. It has been shown to improve student outcomes: one study used test results to show that students who used active learning methods learned twice as much as those learning in a traditional, lecture-based class.

So today I’m looking at how your classroom design and set-up can encourage active learning, to improve student engagement and outcomes.

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The Damaging Effects of Noisy Offices

Aug 3, 2016 / by Michael Eckert posted in Health & Wellness

Noise levels are one of the leading causes of workplace complaints. The open office trend is making noise levels a growing problem: fewer walls to block sound and more people in a shared space.

The American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends that offices have a noise range between 49 and 58 dBA so as not to interfere with conversations or distract workers.  But workers themselves prefer lower noise levels – not exceeding 52 dBA. (source)

But why exactly are loud offices a problem? Today we’re looking at 3 reasons why noisy offices are damaging – both for organizations and employees alike.

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3 Reasons to Avoid Standing Mats in Your Office Design

Jul 19, 2016 / by Mike Brown posted in Health & Wellness

Sit-to-stand offices are growing in popularity, and with good reason: they offer a myriad of health and productivity benefits to employees and organizations alike.

However, the wide-spread adoption of this new working practice often has an unintended side-effect, with many employees starting to struggle with muscular fatigue as a result of increased standing. Many organizations turn to standing mats to alleviate discomfort and improve wellbeing, but actually, standing mats can sometimes cause more problems than they solve. Today, I’m looking at 3 reasons to avoid standing mats.

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How Biophilic Design Can Improve Workplace Health and Wellness

Jul 15, 2016 / by Michael Eckert posted in Health & Wellness

There’s an unseen epidemic sweeping through US workplaces: ‘presenteeism’. The costs of absent employees are well known, but it’s estimated that the costs of unfocused and unproductive employees are as much as 30% greater.

The only way to tackle the problem is to improve health and wellness, and help employees feel switched-on and happy at work. Importantly, this is something you can play a big part in: by building health and wellness into the fabric of your office design, and leveraging a design trend that’s been shown to boost wellbeing and productivity in the workplace. Today, I’m looking at the benefits of biophilic design.

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How to Solve the 4 Biggest Problems with Your Sit-to-Stand Office Design

Jul 12, 2016 / by Mike Brown posted in Health & Wellness

Sit-to-stand working is a hugely popular trend, and with good reason: height adjustable work stations bring with them a myriad of benefits to health, wellness and productivity.

However, as with any new trend, it isn’t always easy for organizations to make the switch and adapt to their new working practices. Sometimes, it can be a real struggle to adjust to sit-to-stand working, and the new design can bring with it a raft of unintended issues.

Today, I’m looking at how you can create a working environment that your clients really love - solving 4 of the biggest issues with sit-to-stand working, before they become a problem.

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4 Ways to Improve Classroom Acoustics

Jul 5, 2016 / by Mike Brown posted in Health & Wellness

The relationship between noise levels and academic performance is well documented – so much so that it’s recognized by LEED building certifications. Schools can earn points for classrooms with sound levels below 40dB, which are then used to qualify the school for different levels of certification, and in some instances, financial grants.

But in many classrooms, sound levels average 65dB (Oberdorster and Tiesler, 2005), which can make a big difference to students’ engagement with their learning, and in turn their academic performance. So today I’m looking at 4 ways you can improve classroom acoustics.

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Organic Valley: A Workplace Flooring Case Study

Jun 29, 2016 / by Mollie Williams posted in Design, Performance, Sustainability, Health & Wellness

Health and well-being at Organic Valley go beyond the organic dairy, eggs and produce from the cooperative. They are vital components of its workplace and of all company initiatives. This case study highlights how Organic Valley partnered with Milliken for the first time to create two brand-centric offices in Wisconsin – the company’s headquarters in LaFarge and a new location in Cashton. The resulting spaces not only inspire, but also deliver sustainable workplaces where employee creativity, productivity and well-being thrive.

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