Joanna is President & CEO of the Center for Active Design in New York. They’re a non-profit on a mission to promote health through design in the real estate and landscape we inhabit. Now, they’re the licensed operators of Fitwel, the world’s leading certification system for optimizing buildings for health.

The movement started in the late 1800s when disease was rife, and cities started to implement basic changes to their infrastructure such as street sweeping and public parks. Central Park, for example, was called “the working man’s lung” back when it was built in 1857. 

Lots has changed since then but the core principles are the same in that every building affects your health, be it via the air quality, the levels of lighting, or even just your ability to change things as you see fit. Your environment plays a very real role in your mental wellbeing, and your physical one as well. 

One of the most surprising lessons Joanna brings with her is the importance of shared workspace. COVID has allowed us to all work from home. We’ll never go back to spending five days a week in the office like we used to, but that doesn’t mean we should work exclusively from home, either. There was a loneliness crisis even before the pandemic. Research has shown that people who work from home tend to be more stressed than those who don’t due to factors such as the eroded work-life balance. 

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. Joanna’s delightful accent alone makes this episode extremely pleasant listening. Her message is, ultimately, one of positivity, and the good we can do. On that positive note, she shares some remarkable stats that demonstrate just how far we’ve come thanks to the subtle health design choices that are now commonplace in architecture around the world.

To learn more, visit Center for Active Design at


Hosted by Kim Marshall

Produced by Crate Media