Health Performance Indicators

“HPIs are the quantifiable measures of human health that can be used to identify drivers of negative and positive impacts of buildings on health, productivity and well-being of occupants. HPIs are divided into those that are direct versus indirect measures of health, those that are objective and subjective measures, and those that are leading versus lagging indicators of health.” Allen et al., Current Environmental Health Reports, 2015
green buildings paper image

Determining what metric or metrics best capture the health of an occupant in a building is an important challenge that health researchers face. For example, what is a better indicator of an occupant’s cardiovascular health: the number of steps taken each day as recorded by a wearable sensor or self-reported arrhythmia? One is an objective measurement, the other is not; one is a risk factor, the other a direct indication of a cardiovascular issue; and, as an exposure, one can be mitigated, the other cannot.

To help researchers not only select but interpret the heath metrics they use in their studies, we developed the Health Performance (HPIs) framework. HPIs are derived from the business concept of key performance indicators (KPIs), which are metrics that companies use to quantify, communicate, and ultimately manage business performance. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Michael Mauboussin highlights some common pitfalls in choosing metrics, including failing to rely on objective data (what he describes as intuition-based decision-making, or “overconfidence”), and using metrics simply because we can measure them (what he calls“availability”). The same concepts and potential problems apply to measuring health in buildings.

The framework itself is adaptable to any environment where human health is impacted, such as schools, parks, airplanes, etc. We hope this framework stimulates health researchers to evaluate their metrics in order to avoid the “availability” and “overconfidence” issue, and pushes the frontier on metrics that can produce higher quality data.

(Green Buildings and Health– Springer Press Release)