Soon, over half of the world’s population will live in cities, driven in part by the emergence of a billion new consumers in the rising economies. Indeed, the management consultants, McKinsey estimate that by 2030, five billion people (60% of the world’s population) will live in cities, compared with 3.6 billion today (How to make a city great, McKinsey Cities Special Initiative).
This gives rise to a growing interest in developing sustainable or green cities where the focus is often on reducing carbon emissions. However, the issue of healthy materials in the context of the built environment also matters a great deal. After all, we spend 90% of our time indoors. Can we be sure that everything we buy is free of toxins? What about the problem of fine dust indoors that can lead to asthma and other respiratory diseases as well as heart conditions?
The World Health Organisation, for example, has estimated that more than two million people die every year from breathing in small dust particles present in the indoor and outdoor air. In China, indoor air pollution has reportedly contributed to a 40% increase in incidences of asthma over the past five years (The Atlantic). More recently, the Guardian newspaper reported on a study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, that demonstrated a strong association between exposure to air pollution and cases of heart failure or death from heart failure.
At Desso, our vision is to ‘make the floor work for our health and wellbeing’ ensuring that we produce products that contribute to a better environment indoors. Combined with this vision is our commitment to designing products according to Cradle to Cradle® principles, which place an emphasis on using healthy materials and designing goods that can be recycled and are positive to human health and the environment.
We realise the drive to create a healthy and productive indoor environment globally is a collective task. We need other businesses to produce their own innovations in product design, for example. To encourage debate and raise awareness of the issues, we launched our ‘Great Indoors’ campaign in 2013.
Following a very positive reception we are launching this website to deepen the campaign. It will cover all relevant issues affecting health and wellbeing such as indoor air quality, acoustics and workplace design and will be all encompassing covering offices, homes, hospitals, care centres, schools and so on.