A new Wellness Standard, and what it means for Smart Homes in New Zealand.
As technology develops and the health and wellness movement converges, we are at a crucial turning point for smart homes. Heralding this next phase of smart homes are organisations such as Delos, which has recently released the WELL Building Standard – focused on advancing health of buildings around the world.
Understanding the new wellness standard
This new standard sets a threshold for what constitutes a healthy home for the people living in it, in the same way the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating systems standardises what constitutes a home that’s healthy for the environment.
According to Delos, the average person lives 90% of their life indoors, and a significant amount of this is spent in our homes. This is a vastly different way of life for human beings and has only taken place very recently, and the certification is a bid to ensure our current environments are best serving us.
The standard itself is the result of a multi-year long collaboration between experts from a range of disciplines, including building science and health science, and is backed by a diverse board of advisors. It breaks down a smart home into core elements and applies standards to each.
So what makes a healthy smart home?
This new standard goes beyond environmental impact to look at the factors of a home and how they impact human health. It looks at how the cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system, as well as cognitive function and sleep outcomes, are influenced by the four walls of our homes, and how key elements of lighting, temperature, air quality, water quality and sound can be controlled with an optimal blend of hardware and software to contribute to our wellbeing.
Smart homes that meet The Wellness Standard blend physical components, such as water filtration devices and intuitive sound systems, with algorithms that learn how the home is used and understand how the key elements can be attuned to the occupants wellbeing.
For instance, Delos’ DARWIN platform, described as the first home wellness intelligence network, creates a ‘wellness ecosystem’ that mitigates indoor environmental concerns and provides premium air and water quality, circadian lighting, and thermal and acoustic comfort. More specifically, the system detects unhealthy levels of air purity and ups filtration where necessary; uses algorithms and software to ensure lighting automatically adjusts throughout the day to match our natural body clock; and uses sound therapy research to inform the audio system. Darwin provides the intelligence system and blends with existing smart home hardware and devices.
Where to next?
The standard and the overall approach has been dubbed ‘science-based innovation’, and Delos spokespeople have announced that already thousands of projects in 37 countries around the world are now wellness certified, having incorporated wellness principles into their homes and buildings. The leaders and advisory board at Delos say they see a growing demand for smart homes to utilise IoT (Internet of Things) and automation technologies to not only bring in energy savings, but to meet the WELL Standard and bring better health to all who live there.