Indoor environments affect human health and well-being. And people affect the indoor spaces where they live, work and play. But how and to what extent? And what can we learn through this research?
Indoor environmental quality research has traditionally been conducted in chamber studies. This type of research is important, but has a number of limitations including generally shorter study durations, as well as the inherent difficulty in setting up a realistic space. It is also harder to realistically control environmental variables. With the opening of the Well Living Lab, another option emerged, one that overcomes those limitations and adds a new dimension to understanding the relationship between indoor spaces and health and well-being.
Well Living Lab studies use highly controlled realistic environments and allow for longer experimentation periods. While they have relatively small sample sizes due to space restrictions, the lab conducts multi-cohort studies to increase the number of human subjects in its experiments. With the addition of a living lab, science can utilize a sequence of chamber, lab and field studies, with field studies allowing actual environments and larger populations to be studied. As the intersection of health and building science grows and matures, it has the potential put human health and well-being as the first priority for designing and operating buildings.
In a recent article in Technology|Architecture + Design, Well Living Lab researchers explore the approaches for living lab research and the challenges and solutions developed to bring this concept to reality. Covering the facilities, technology requirements, research process and design, measurements and data collection methods, the paper provides insights to realize the full potential of living labs.
The Well Living Lab, a collaboration of Delos and Mayo Clinic, is dedicated to identifying how indoor environments affect human health and well-being. It conducts scientific research with human subjects in a simulated real-world environment and shares practical findings that can be applied to improving indoor spaces where people spent approximately 90% of their time. The lab has 5,500 square feet of sensor-rich, reconfigurable space in downtown Rochester, Minnesota. Learn more.