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Bridging Industries for Health in the Built Environment: iAIR Institute’s Success at Design Days and NeoCon

    Dr. John McKeon reports on this week’s highlights from Chicago

    The iAIR Institute had a successful week in Chicago, effectively bridging industries to focus on creating healthier indoor environments.

    Highlights of the busy week included a presentation at Design Days and the launch of a virtual learning session at NeoCon, building on the momentum from the iAIR’s recent participation at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference in Washington DC.

    Design Days

    Over 40,000 individuals from the global design community convened in the Fulton Market District for Chicago’s Design Days from June 10–12. Tarkett invited design professionals to its showroom, hosting a series of educational sessions and panel discussions providing valuable insights and fostered meaningful conversations about the latest trends and innovations in commercial design.

    One of these notable sessions included our CEO, Dr. John McKeon who was on the panel discussion titled “Building Inclusive Futures: Health Equity and Community-Centric Design.” Dr. McKeon, alongside co-panelists Denge Agola, Principal at Smith Group, and Ian Hughes, Director of Environmental Sustainability at RUSH University Medical Center, engaged in a vibrant dialogue moderated by Roxane Spears, Vice President of Sustainability at Tarkett North America. This panel explored the importance of community-centric design, with each panellist offering unique and relevant viewpoints on how they strive to transform the status quo.

    NeoCon

    NeoCon has served as the world’s leading platform and most important event of the year for the commercial interior design industry since 1969. It is an essential learning hub, offering a range of virtual and onsite CEU sessions. These seminars, featuring a diverse array of educational topics and categories, provide world-class expertise and insight on today’s most relevant subjects. The iAIR Institute was delighted to offer one such virtual session, “Designing a Healthier Exposome for Building Occupants [HSW]”, highlighting the crucial link between human health and the built environment, with a particular focus on indoor air quality and its impact on occupant well-being.

    In this session, Dr. John McKeon covers practical approaches inspired by the indoor “exposome” concept, merging insights from the healthy homes movement with emerging medical research. By bridging industries, the session offers real-world collaborative solutions involving architecture, engineering, building management, and medicine, and how to efficiently apply this information for building standards such as ASHRAE 241. Participants will gain fundamental knowledge, empowering them to prioritize health and wellness throughout the lifecycle of designing, building, or maintaining buildings.

    The NeoCon event also provided an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and friends, including Matthew J. De Geeter from the American Society of Interior Designers, Whitney Austin Gray from the IWBI, and Steve Kooy, Technical Director of Health and Sustainability at BIFMA.

    American Institute of Architects (AIA)

    The launch of the virtual learning session at NeoCon built on the momentum of the iAIR’s recent participation at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference in New York, where the iAIR Institute announced its status as an approved educator with the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This milestone is significant in our mission to enhance indoor air quality (IAQ) education.

    The course, “Medical Impact of Poor Indoor Air Quality,” has been approved for continuing education credits by the AIA, qualifying for one learning unit (LU) in health, safety, and welfare (HSW). AIA members, including architects and international associates, are required to complete 18 LUs from registered AIA/CES providers annually, with 12 of these focused on HSW topics.

    This course provides participants with a comprehensive understanding of how building environments can impact human health. By the end of the course, learners will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to apply these principles in their professional practice, ultimately contributing to the creation of healthier built environments.

    At this year’s AIA Annual General Meeting, delegates voted overwhelmingly to acknowledge the 2024 Strategic Council’s unanimous recommendation. The Council urged the AIA to continue exploring areas that optimize health and well-being in relation to climate, design, equity, and the value of architecture. They emphasized that ongoing research and education in these interconnected areas are ethical imperatives that form the foundation of the Institute.

    The recognition at AIA 2024 that architects play a crucial role in designing buildings that support occupant health and well-being underscores the importance of courses like “Medical Impact of Poor Indoor Air Quality” for professional development and continuing education.

    Bridging Industries with the International Healthy Building Accord

    The iAIR Institute’s recent achievements in Chicago come at a particularly timely moment, just weeks after becoming a signatory of the International Healthy Building Accord. This initiative, created by the IWBI, aims to rally global leaders across industries to prioritize and promote healthier buildings, outlining a roadmap for the future of healthier built environments worldwide. As a central player in this transformative initiative, the iAIR Institute bridges various industries, connecting advocacy efforts with scientific research and practical implementation strategies. The International Healthy Building Accord is a testament to our collective resolve to prioritize human health and well-being.

    By actively participating in key events like Design Days, NeoCon, and the AIA Conference, we continue to foster meaningful collaborations and educational initiatives. These efforts enhance our understanding of the built environment’s impact on health and drive the implementation of innovative solutions that prioritize human well-being and environmental sustainability. The iAIR Institute remains committed to bridging industries to create healthier indoor spaces, ensuring that health and welfare principles are at the forefront of design and building practices worldwide.