Wood and Human Health

As the health benefits of wood become better understood, there is the potential to increase the specification of wood in hospitals, schools, and offices in Canada.

A recent FPInnovations / UBC study established a link between the use of wood and lower stress activation.  This result touches on two very current trends in architecture: evidence based design, and Biophilic design.  Evidence-based design is a growing movement in architecture (health, school, and office) that relies on scientifically proven health benefits in design decisions.  Biophilic design is a trend to putting more natural elements into architecture for the benefit of the occupants.  Evidence of health benefits supports both of these trends and can make wood a prescriptive material in sustainability and health related rating systems and codes. Currently the competition to wood is not so much other materials, but an overemphasis on low-cost interior finish.  While most designers intuitively believe in the health benefits of wood, they have little scientific evidence to back them when working with their clients.  To save on project budgets, wood finishes are not specified up front or often, when specified, are dropped out of projects at the finishing stage as budgets come under pressure.  With evidence that supports the link between wood and health, the appearance of wood products in finished buildings is expected to increase.