Framework for Design Excellence: Design for Well-being

Good design supports health and well-being for all people, considering physical, mental, and emotional effects on building occupants and the surrounding community. 

  • How can the design encourage a healthy lifestyle? 
  • How can the project provide greater occupant comfort? 
  • How can the project be welcoming and inclusive for all? 
  • How can the project connect people with place and nature? 
  • How can material selection reduce hazards to occupants and communities throughout the supply chain? 

Focus topics

  • Light
  • Thermal comfort  
  • Indoor air quality  
  • Mental and social well-being  
  • Acoustics 
  • Movement
  • Nourishment  

If you can do only one (or a few) thing(s):

  • ZERO CARBON: Reduce the use of fossil fuels. Challenge the assumption that buildings require fossil fuels for their operation.
  • RESILIENT: Design for passive survivability in the event of service interruptions. 
  • EQUITABLE: Explore opportunities to provide the community with healthy spaces that support well-being and promote social interaction.  
  • HEALTHY: Design to achieve excellent air quality, whether in living, learning, working, or other environments.
  • HEALTHY: Design for active living and access to nature. Utilize biophilic design to improve mental and physical health and well-being. 

Additional information

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published and distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

AIA does not sponsor or endorse any enterprise, whether public or private, operated for profit. Further, no AIA officer, director, committee member, or employee, or any of its component organizations in his or her official capacity, is permitted to approve, sponsor, endorse, or do anything that may be deemed or construed to be an approval, sponsorship, or endorsement of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product.

Image credits

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design-19

Jonathan Hillyer

A image of a green roof in fall so the grass is dead and there are people walking around.

Bruce Damonte

Rainier Beach Clinic-34

Benjamin Benschneider

Front of the Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building at dusk