Chapter Meeting Webinar: Buildings as a Lever of Public Health

Date(s) - 08/26/2020
11:00 am - 1:00 pm


There is no doubt that there is now an immediate connection for most people between their health and buildings. While there is a long way to go (if you ask a friend what they do to stay well, they’ll probably mention diet and exercise and may even through in sleep and meditation, but they are unlikely to tell you how they’ve made their home healthy, and yet as the spaces we occupy – for over 90% of our lives, on average), there’s a resurgence in seeing our sector as a vehicle for public health. What many people don’t remember is that until about 1950s, the built environment was inseparable from public health: that’s why we got plumbing, sidewalks, overpasses, the metro/underground, and the fire code. Given the base of evidence accumulated over the past three decades that the built environment has an irrefutable and jaw-dropping impact on our health and wellbeing – both immediate and long-term — we are sitting on a mountain of game-changing ammunition never before counted in a fight. As such, we can’t sit coronavirus out any more than we expect epidemiologists, economists or nurses to sit it out. So what is the role of the built environment in serving as the first line of defense in this and future public health emergencies? How should COVID-19 change how we design, build, and operate assets? And how can be leverage science to become more resilient for any number of shocks likely coming our way as we live in an increasingly congested, destabilized, and globalized world?

Key Take-aways:
1. Understand both the historic role of the built environment in public health and the opportunity to do so again today.
2. Explore specific examples of the built environment acting as the first line of defense.
3. Explore what our industry can do to help make all buildings safer.


Alison Avendt, MBA, OT

Senior Operations Advisor with HKS Advisory. Alison brings 32 years of diverse experience as a healthcare executive and a clinician to advise clients on strategy and operational planning. Alison believes that by understanding staff workflows and workarounds we can design the care environment to support safe and efficient processes that improve quality, decrease waste and ultimately lower the cost of care,
Prior to joining HKS Alison served as Vice President of Operations for ProMedica Toledo Hospital, a large academic tertiary care facility and System President of ProMedica Air and Mobile. In these roles she was responsible for all ancillary and support services, managed over $500M in renovation and new construction projects and $20M in annual routine capital. And she got to fly in a helicopter every once in awhile!

Upali Nanda, PhD, Assoc. AIA; EDAC, ACHE

Dr. Upali Nanda is Principal and Director of Research for HKS, a global architectural firm where she spearheads research projects globally. She also serves as the Executive Director for the non-profit Center for Advanced Design Research and Education and teaches as the Associate Professor of Practice at the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning at University of Michigan. She serves on the board of directors for HKS and the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture. Her doctoral work on “Sensthetics” has been published as a book available on Her award-winning research has been widely published and cited in peer-reviewed journals and mainstream media. In 2015, Dr. Nanda was recognized as one of the top 10 most influential people in Healthcare Design by the Healthcare Design Magazine. In 2018, she was honored by Architectural Record with the Women in Architecture Innovator Award. In 2019, she was recognized as one of nine people shaping American design by Specify Magazine from Metropolis.
Education: Ph.D. in Architecture, Health Systems and Design, Texas A&M University; Master of Architecture, National University of Singapore; Bachelor of Architecture, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, India

Elena Bondareva, MA, WELL AP

Through a varied international career, Elena Bondareva has a solid track record of transformative innovation. Elena has held public, private, teaching and Board roles in Australia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, India, and the US; delivered CPD training to thousands of professionals; participated in globally significant events such as COP17 and G20; published in peer-reviewed and public journals; and presented at countless conferences.
Elena helped establish four Green Building Councils and the Living Future Institute of Australia and serves on the Advisory Board for the Global Health & Wellness Summit (Greenbuild), the COVID-19 Taskforce of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), and the Board of Pollinate Group, an award-winning social enterprise. CETEC is an international scientific consultancy optimizing occupant health, wellbeing, and performance — and currently focused on enabling and verifying safe (re)occupancy of property assets post lockdowns.


Virginia Terra Hodge RN, MSN NE-BC

Virginia Terra Hodge is a Health Care Administrator whose 30 years of experience spans Academic and Private Healthcare Settings. She has directed care in the Outpatient, Inpatient and Periop Settings as well as managed supply chain restructuring projects resulting in millions of dollars in savings. Recently retired from UCSF Health System, she plans to work part time providing Interim Management.