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​Sarah Billington: How we shape our buildings — and how they shape us

A professor of civil and environmental engineering discusses the relationship between built spaces and human well-being.

A tall building

Can a physical space transform how you think and feel? | Unsplash/Anders Jildén

Sarah Billington began her career in civil engineering studying concrete, a remarkable material that has literally shaped the world as we know it.

Concrete is one of the most-consumed materials on Earth — second only to water, but this one material alone is also responsible for 6 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

That cold realization and a dispiriting morning meeting spent in a bunkerlike concrete-walled room led Billington to alter her research focus. She now studies how we can construct buildings designed to enhance human health and well-being. As a part of their research for the Stanford Catalyst for Collaborative Solutions, Billington and James Landay are co-leading efforts to better understand how buildings could be central contributors to our sense of fulfillment in life. From artistic, behavior-nudging digital displays to spaces that inspire a sense of belonging and creativity, tune in as host Russ Altman and Sarah Billington discuss a new and more holistic approach to building design.

You can listen to the Future of Everything on iTunes, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher or via Stanford Engineering Magazine.