Healthy Buildings Barometer 2024: How to deliver healthy, sustainable, and resilient buildings for people

Since 2015, the Healthy Homes Barometer has been tracking the state of European Union (EU) homes. The 2024 edition has been renamed as the Healthy Buildings Barometer (HBB) to reflect the fact that it now extends to all major building types, giving us significant insights into all our buildings and their users’ health.

Since 2015, the Healthy Homes Barometer has been tracking the state of European Union (EU) homes and shining a light on workplaces and educational institutions. The 2024 edition has been renamed as the Healthy Buildings Barometer (HBB) to reflect the fact it now extends to all major building types, giving us significant insights into all our buildings and their users’ health. The 2024 edition also includes a comprehensive framework for healthy buildings based on scientific research and illustrated through 12 case studies from across the EU. Policymakers at national and EU levels, as well as building sector stakeholders, can use this Healthy Buildings Barometer and its framework as a guide to achieving healthy and sustainable buildings across Europe.

The EU is not on track to reduce energy demand and renovate buildings at a rate sufficient to meet the 2050 climate targets. Recognising the importance of healthy buildings, the Healthy Buildings Barometer introduces a framework for tracking at the EU level. This informs policy recommendations to collectively align initiatives for healthy buildings with the 2050 decarbonisation objectives of the Paris Agreement. Climate policies must put people first, which this healthy buildings framework does.

The Healthy Buildings Barometer identifies three core messages for policymakers.

These messages help policymakers at local, national and EU level to identify what is needed in order to change the current policy framework. Stakeholders within the building industry can then implement the changes needed, while the non-profit and research sector, as well as building users, can keep track of progress to ensure accountability.

1. Accelerate adoption of a comprehensive definition and framework of healthy buildings to drive progress

The lack of a commonly accepted comprehensive definition of what constitutes a healthy building hinders progress towards achieving healthy buildings. Better building health means multiple positive impacts, such as financial viability, sustainability, and resilience to climate impacts. Above all, all buildings should be healthy buildings, in which people can live, learn, work, play, and rest. This year’s Healthy Buildings Barometer provides policymakers and the building and construction industry with a new framework for promoting the urgent need for healthier buildings. The framework clearly defines what a healthy building is: Healthy buildings emphasise occupants’ health and well-being, safeguard and enhance sustainability, and enable transformation through empowerment and resilience.

Healthy buildings are multifaceted and cannot be understood by focusing exclusively on one dimension or individual characteristics. The framework for healthy buildings can only become a reality through five interrelated dimensions: (1) improving mental and physical health, (2) designed for human needs, (3) sustainably built and managed, (4) resilient and adaptive, and (5) empowering people. Each dimension is composed of a set of indicators, with a total of 24 indicators across the five dimensions. These indicators help to see what is required to achieve truly healthy buildings.

2. Prioritise high-quality data that tracks building health and occupant well-being

Using EU-level data to implement the new framework developed in the Healthy Buildings Barometer on case studies is challenging – as the section ‘The lack of data and challenges for implementation tools’ shows in detail. EU-level data on buildings are often not available, incomplete, or not measured regularly. Data on building occupants are mostly associated with residential buildings. In addition, data availability and quality also vary substantially across Member States. This makes it very challenging to get a holistic picture of the health of buildings in line with the new framework presented in this barometer. It further illustrates the need for healthy buildings to become an interest area for EU-level data collection, utilising existing sources as well as creating new data collection pathways.

Surprisingly, key statistics on public health and buildings at the EU level indicate that the health of buildings and their users have not changed. Buildings still consume too much energy, emit more GHGs, and there are fewer investments in renovation, resulting in lower renovation rates.  Absenteeism rates in workplaces are also increasing, suggesting a deterioration of the health of people, perhaps also due to the buildings they occupy.

3. Integrate health, sustainability and resilience into buildings policy

Immediate political action at the EU and Member State level is needed to introduce policies and regulations that integrate a multidimensional focus on health, sustainability and resilience as key components of decision-making processes.

Urgent action is needed to:

  • Broaden the regulatory focus to include the concept of healthy buildings and occupants.
    Policymakers must broaden the focus on buildings beyond energy performance and CO2 emissions to include health along with other sustainability parameters, such as resilience and adaptability to a warming climate with more extreme weather.
  • Ensure access to data so that buildings’ health, sustainability, and resilience can be tracked over time.
    Authorities must agree on, and ensure adequate/appropriate and consistent data collection on healthy, sustainable, and resilient building indicators to identify gaps and patterns and track progress accurately.
  • Increase cross-functional collaboration and information-sharing between actors within and outside the construction sector.
    Actors within and outside the construction sector must collaborate more closely to ensure a holistic approach to buildings that benefits health, sustainability, and resilience.
  • Use decision-making tools effectively for an integrated focus on health, sustainability, and resilience of buildings.
    Decision-making tools (such as building-specific tools like building information modelling, building renovation passports, or strategic and procedural tools) should be appropriately integrated (also digitally) into all phases of a building’s life cycle to maximise performance in terms of health, sustainability, and resilience.
  • Put people at the centre and involve them throughout the life cycle of buildings. Sustainable buildings design must start with human needs, putting the user at the centre of the design, and involving them in optimising the operation of the building, including smart automisation and guidance during the lifetime of the building.
Like our work? Feel free to share

Keep in touch with
our work

BPIE supports evidence-based policy making by providing data and knowledge through its reports, as well as partnering in several European projects.


You can unsubscribe at any time.

Privacy Policy