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Thirsty work

Keeping building occupants hydrated is a balancing act between taste, quality, wellbeing and sustainability, says Sara Bean

Nearly two-thirds of the human body is composed of water, and even a reduction of as little as two per cent of body weight in hydration levels can influence mood, lead to greater feelings of fatigue and a reduced state of alertness. Yet research has found that people in many parts of the world are inadequately hydrated. For example, 75 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men in Italy consume less than the European Food Safety Authority’s adequate intake recommendation of 2.5 litres of water for men and two litres for women (2), including drinking water as well as water from other beverages and food.

According to the WELL certification standard (3), which is concerned with the health and wellbeing of building occupants, the first step towards increasing the consumption of plain water is to make it easily available. This was straightforward back in the day when people were happy to drink water from a tap. But over the last decade single-use plastic water bottles have permeated the workplace, meaning that FMs not only have to ensure staff have access to drinking water, but that it is refreshing and enticing enough to lure occupants away from non-sustainable branded mineral water.

This challenge was demonstrated in a recent joint survey by FMJ and Zip, which looked closely into what influences FMs’ decisions when it comes to balancing wellbeing with sustainability at work. It emerged that while 96 per cent of FMs consider sustainability an important part of their role, 97 per cent regard wellbeing as even more important. It’s clearly a balancing act.

Comments Russell Owens, Zip Water UK Marketing Director: “The results of this survey prove what we already suspected – that FMs play a vital role in implementing and managing wellbeing and sustainability within a workplace. It’s also interesting to note that the majority of respondents, 63 per cent, feel that single-use plastic is an issue in their building, and a huge proportion, 93 per cent, feel that the FM industry could be doing more to reduce single-use plastic water bottles in the workplace.”

One answer is the installation of a chilled mains-fed filtered drinking water system that promotes both staff wellbeing and refill behaviour – helping to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles for good. The other benefits are that such systems can come with a hot water option, so users can choose to have a glass of chilled water or make themselves tea or other hot drinks.

Roy Marsden, Product Manager at Heatrae Sadia, adds that installing a convenient drinking water supply can also feed into the biophilic design of the workplace, emphasising our connection with nature by looking at how our surroundings can have a positive impact on health, wellbeing and productivity.

About Sarah OBeirne

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