Institute For Health

in the Built Environment



In the developed world we spend 90% of our lives – and 40% of the total energy we consume – in buildings. Decisions we make about how buildings are designed, constructed and managed have significant implications for our own health, and for the health of our planet. The Institute for Health in the Built Environment advances, integrates, and applies new knowledge from diverse scientific disciplines to support a healthy, thriving community and planet.

Our mission is to develop new design concepts for the realization of healthy and sustainable inhabited space. We do this by forming unconventional collaborations that conduct research where architecture, biology, medicine, chemistry and engineering intersect and translate it into design practice through a consortium of invested industry partners.  Our understanding of what a “healthy building” constitutes – from its complex microbiome, its chemistry, its provision of light and air, and its energy and carbon footprint – is fragmented, underdeveloped, and too often not reflected in practice. The Institute for Health in the Built Environment pursues an integrated approach to conducting and applying research so that every building provides health in the full sense of the word.


IHBE is the brainchild of the BioBE Center and the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory at the University of Oregon. We aim to combine experts within the building and health industries with researchers at universities and businesses, leading to new discoveries that  can improve health and better the understanding of environmental design. We are fortunate to be partnered with several prestigious institutes around the nation that provide expertise in biology, chemistry, engineering, and public health.

Recent News

Prof. Van Den Wymelenberg Testifies in Congress on Healthy Buildings

Professor Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg went to Capitol Hill today to testify before the transportation committee about healthy buildings, building resilience and energy conservation, arguing that additional metrics to explore non-energy benefits will make federal...

Welcome Hickok Cole: Designing For What’s Next

The Institute is excited to introduce Hickok Cole, our newest Consortium Member. Hickok Cole is a forward-focused design practice firm, connecting bold ideas, diverse expertise, and partners with a vision: to do work that matters. Hickok Cole works on projects from...

Metropolis: Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg on Increasing Demands for Lighting Controls

Director Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg's interview with Retrofit for Metropolis magazine is published! He is one of a series of experts sharing their insight on the importance of daylighting for human health and comfort.Check out the article...

Stop Motion Science: The Light Box Video

Written by Mira Zimmerman and Fiona Curliss At BioBE, we strive to produce scientific research that is clear and understandable to any audience, not only for interdisciplinary collaboration, but also for scientific education. Those unfamiliar with the language and...

New Publication on Anti-Microbials & Drug Resistant Microbes Indoors

After reading this, you might think twice about hand washing after your workout. Dr, Erica Hartmann, of Northwestern University, and Dr. Ashkaan Fahimipour, of BioBE, have been heading a study on the relationships between gyms, anti-microbial chemicals, and antibiotic...

Perspective on the Role of Light in the Indoor Microbiome

Written by Mark Fretz, Sue Ishaq, and Mira Zimmerman Light is as necessary to the perfect growth and nutrition of the human frame as are air and food; and, whenever it is deficient, health fails, and disease appears… Artificial is but a very bad substitute for natural...

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