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Warwick researcher suggests new design kitemark for homes that make us healthier and happier

A University of Warwick professor is proposing a new kitemark for housing developments to ensure your new home will not make you unwell or depressed.

Professor Libby Burton, Professor of Sustainable Building Design and Wellbeing at the University of Warwick’s School of Health and Social Studies, claims living in houses that are badly designed in areas that do not have enough space or greenery can seriously affect our health and wellbeing.

The kitemark would ensure new housing developments meet minimum ‘wellbeing’ standards.

Professor Burton is proposing the scheme as part of a programme of work she is undertaking for her newly-awarded Dream Fellowship. One of only eight in the UK, the Fellowship has been handed out by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Professor Burton said: “My area of interest is the buildings and environment that surround us every day. What if we could make our environment one that helps us to be happier? For example we could have homes designed that minimise the friction between members of families; street design that gives us the ability to retreat when we want to, but also to meet our neighbours and feel part of a community.

“In the 19th Century there was a much stronger emphasis on health in the origins of town and country planning. Garden cities and model villages such as Bournville in Birmingham were based on an absolute acceptance of the influence of housing on people’s wellbeing. In more recent years housing has become high density, with less greenery and less space.”

The Dream Fellowship lasts for two years and is intended to fund activities that would not be funded through more traditional routes.

Professor Burton will be looking at three key questions: what do we mean by an environment that helps us to be happier, how do we do the research to find out what environments work and how do we ensure the evidence is used in practice.

She said: “We need to look at making more fundamental changes, offering training in building design to promote wellbeing. Also, we need to offer incentives to developers so I am going to explore the idea of introducing an awards system or kitemark which recognises design for wellbeing in the same way as sustainability kitemarks do.”


Notes to editors

For more information contact Professor Elizabeth Burton on 07760162708 or alternatively contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Press and Communications Manager,, 02 476 150868, 07824 540863.

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