Fenestration: The Well-Being Movement

How Windows & Doors Can Help People Live Happier, Healthier Lives

by Marco Vincent, WELL AP, CPHC, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, CDT, architectural project manager, Marvin

The well-being movement continues to grow, and 2020 only accelerated homeowners’ desire to improve their health and happiness.  From tackling small projects, such as painting or organizing, to larger ones like increasing square footage, the focus on features that promote well-being in the home is at an all-time high, and homeowners are turning to professionals for advice.  Last year forced people to reimagine the work and play functions of their homes, and as a result, the renovation market is skyrocketing.  With homeowners prioritizing health and happiness more than ever, professionals are encouraged to consider the impact products have on a home’s well-being. 

         A recent national survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Marvin® found that 58% of surveyed builders and 48% of architects are often asked by homeowners to select products that improve their health and happiness.  Topping the list of must-haves are natural light and outdoor views of nature or the world around them.  The benefits of windows and doors are more crucial to homeowners’ well-being in 2021 than ever before. 

         Windows and doors allow people to reconnect with the outdoors.  Leveraging light, air quality, and views provides a sense of grounding, the ability to recharge, and a connection to our human nature.  We’re seeing people opt for larger window and door openings in new build and remodel projects, as people have been craving this connection.  Due to advances in manufacturing and engineering capabilities, there are more imaginative window solutions available than most homeowners realize are possible.  For example, homeowners can now get a fully constructed glass alcove, which provides a cozy spot projected into the sky, designed to provide a healthier space for people to sit, study, or sleep.  This type of product extends out from the exterior wall, and thereby extends the functional living space of a room.  Connections to the outdoors are fostered from four directions of views and sunlight, offering panoramic views that traditional bow or bay windows cannot accommodate. 

         Architects, builders, and homeowners are increasing natural light in other ways too, by adding doors where there were once windows, or replacing existing windows with larger ones.  Depending on the product, stationary windows can now reach 35 to 89 sq.ft. of glass.  With such advancements available, we’re noticing homeowners are more eager to tackle remodeling and replacement projects.  Their interest in upscaling the sizes of their windows is on the rise, as is the interest in larger doors.  Replacing traditional patio doors with a much larger scenic door system is more common, and these can provide 8’, 12’, 16’, or even 55’ widths, and 9’-12’ heights.  With this, there are more opportunities for seamless indoor-outdoor transitions than ever.

         It’s not just what people see in their space that makes them happy, it’s also indoor air quality.  When people are purchasing a new home, 95% stated that poor air quality would deter them from purchasing a home, and that air circulation is an important consideration.  New technologies allow windows to improve indoor air quality like never before.  There are now automated skylights that maximize access to light and air with smart home features.  Some skylights can vent, pushing out on all four sides, parallel to the roof.  Intelligent sensors detect rain and other environmental factors, allowing the skylight to automatically vent to improve air quality more efficiently.  Temperature, humidity, and the presence of volatile organic compounds are tracked by the sensors, which include particulate in the smoke of a burnt roast, or the toxins that off-gas from certain products, paints, and varnishes.  An intuitive smartphone app allows homeowners to be more connected to the air quality in their environment, to better manage their family’s health. 

         Spending more time living and working at home has been a challenge for everyone.  It has encouraged people to become more in-tune with their mood, happiness, and well-being.  It also has forced people to look at their homes differently.  Ingenious windows and doors may remedy dissatisfaction with the spaces where people live, work, and play.  Moving forward, designing for happier, healthier living will be top of mind for homeowners and professionals alike.  This approach used to be a progressive exception in the market, and it is now becoming the norm.

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