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Environmental Standards Council Series: The Case for Access to Nature in the 2014 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities

In their recommendations for the 2014 Guidelines for Design & Construction of Healthcare Facilities, The Center for Health Design’s Environmental Standards Council (ESC) proposed language and substantiating evidence for incorporating Access to Nature as one of the Key Elements in the Physical Environment Component of the Environment of Care. Providing access to nature in healthcare facilities has evolved from being viewed as an “icing on the cake” amenity to acceptance as an essential design component for patient, visitor, and staff health and well-being. While both quantitative and qualitative research supports this, it has yet to be considered an inextricable aspect of the design process by most regulatory agencies.

 In 2006, the ESC co-authored the "Environment of Care" chapter of the Guidelines, unanimously accepted by the Guidelines Review Committee, which outlined environmental factors that contribute to patient, staff, and family satisfaction as well as increased safety, fewer medical errors, and a healthier financial bottom line. This presentation, the first of the Environmental Standards Council Series from The Center for Health Design, will look at ongoing work that proposes revisions to the Guidelines which will allow regulatory agencies to more strongly support the inclusion of meaningful outdoor spaces in future projects.