Senior living communities can recognize the role the built environment plays in resident health, well-being and quality of life by applying biophilic design principles throughout the process of building or renovation projects, according to a new white paper by design and architectural firm Perkins Eastman.

“Biophilic design … attempts to scientifically understand how people interact with their environment and, consequently, how their environment can be designed to better support them,” explain the authors of “Biophilic Design: An Alternative Perspective for Sustainable Design in Senior Living,” associate Hillary DeGroff and architect McCall Wood.

The paper uses case studies of the firm’s projects to communicate the potential benefits of biophilic design principles in senior living environments and also shares five guidelines for project teams to use if they wish to incorporate sustainable design into their projects.

1. Ensure all team members know that biophilic design is a priority for the project, whether the plan is to follow biophilic design principles as much as possible or to choose one or two key principles.

2. Analyze the site with biophilic design in mind.

3. Educate the entire team about the psychologic and physiologic effects of the environment on residents so they understand the ramifications of every architectural and engineering decision on human health and well-being.

4. Think about the human health and well-being effects of items that arise within a value engineering process.

5. Educate future residents. “Marketing materials, websites and conversations should prominently feature the fact that the design of the building was directly influenced by the desire to improve the health, well-being and performance of the residents,” the authors state. “Documents should feature a discussion about the commitment to all areas of sustainability simultaneously, as the resident, owner and environment benefit from buildings designed with biophilic design principles in mind.”