Managing a social and environmental crisis in an arts institution

For several years, the teachers and students of this dance school experienced physical disorders—excessive fatigue, breathing problems, headaches, malaise, ear, nose and throat problems, and others—sometimes evolving into psychological disorders, including uneasiness and depression, despite major work on the building. The perception of persistent discomfort intensified their uneasiness. These are symptoms consistent with sick building syndrome (SBM).

Based on its research, the CSTB considers two aspects-environmental and psychosocial—in determining the factors that explain this phenomenon. Specifically, it combines assessment of air containment and air quality and analysis of complaints reported by occupants.

At the end of its investigations, all the information collected confirmed sick building syndrome, demonstrated by the impact on physical health and the discomfort experienced. Though environmental factors may explain the emergence of the problem, the way the problem was handled created or exacerbated the psychological effects observed.

The CSTB proposals aim to:

  • Improve the quality of the thermal, physical, chemical, olfactory, and visual environment and optimize the performance of the air handling system;
  • Ensure that the building matches its intended use, which is dance training; and
  • Focus on social and organizational factors, considering their importance in the stressful situation (communicate decisions, set up a monitoring committee that includes those affected in the decision-making process, and create rest areas).
  • Client: Établissement culturel, école de danse
  • Location: France
  • Year: 2018