Green building practices are becoming mainstream. These days we’re all seeing an increasing number of commercial projects striving to reach higher standards of sustainability and environmental responsibility.
L.E.E.D.® building standards were developed to formalize these standards and are synonymous with excellence in the built environment. However, many feel that these standards don’t adequately address occupant health and wellbeing concerns.
That situation is now changing with the emergence of a new building standard that is garnering rave reviews and winning multiple prestigious awards wherever it’s being implemented.
The WELL Certification™ Program based on the WELL Building Standard® is like a breath of fresh air in an industry already striving toward greater excellence with each advance in building technology and design.
The WELL Building Standard® formally certifies building standards that promote the health and wellbeing of building occupants. It “provides the opportunity to design and build with a human-centered approach, which ultimately supports the industry in comprehensively addressing human health”
A comment at WELL2014 this past December sums up the WELL philosophy nicely: “Health and wellness in the built environment should not be a privilege – it should be a right”
The International WELL Building Institute hasn’t only developed a human centered building standard; it also actively promotes these standards by offering formal certification that recognizes a project’s ability to add ‘measurable value to the health, wellbeing and happiness of building occupants.’
The WELL philosophy revolves around the premise that people should be placed at the heart of design. People should not have to ‘fit into’ design, but design should fit people and provide a healthy, nurturing environment in which they can live, work and play without compromising their health.
Business sense and human health are not mutually exclusive:
Modern commercial building design maximizes space efficiently to reduce carbon footprint, real estate costs and ongoing operations and maintenance costs.
Modern work environments have to provide flexibility so that they can adapt and evolve to suit the organizations growth and changing requirements.
A certain amount of attention is already paid to employee wellbeing during design. For instance, an effort is made to ensure that all workers have access to natural light as well as providing designated focused and collaborative workspaces.
As soon as we hear about adding a new building standard, we immediately tend to assume that this is going to add cost to the project. As with all costs, an addition to the budget has to be weighed against the potential return on investment, both financial and in terms of productivity, wellness and employee satisfaction:
- How does the WELL Certification Program feature when examined using financial criteria?
- What is the ‘real life’ impact these WELL Building Standards® might have on those fortunate enough to occupy a WELL Certified™ building and
- Is the investment / return potential enough to justify its implementation?
An occupant survey of the WELL pilot program at the CBRE Corporate Headquarters revealed that:
- 83% felt more productive
- 100% said that clients were interested in their new way of working
- 92% said the new space created a positive effect on their health and wellbeing
- 94% said that the new space had a positive impact on their business performance
- 93% said that they are able to more easily collaborate with others
It’s interesting to note that this Los Angeles based project was not only popular with its occupants, but was also the recipient of the prestigious Global Innovators Award from CoreNet Global.
Can the costs be justified?
With that kind of glowing endorsement, the only reason an organization might decide against implementing WELL Certification might be the costs. The good news is that the cost of design, construction, operations and maintenance is just a fraction (8%) of the cost for personnel.
WELL maintains that implementing its standards can also generate increased savings and productivity, providing a meaningful return on investment. The facts certainly seem to underscore the financial viability of investing in a WELL Certified project.
There is no shortage of those who agree with this conclusion. The benefits are so patently obvious that to date over 10 million square feet of projects have been, or are in the process of being certified. These projects are located all over the world and include commercial as well as residential buildings.
The first project to be certified on a worldwide scale was the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. It’s the recipient of the highest rating awarded by IWBI for its Center for Sustainable Landscapes that also achieved the Living Building Challenge™, L.E.E.D.® Platinum and the Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™.
We are excited to see the WELL Certification™ gaining momentum and recognition and look forward to being involved in WELL projects in our local Bay area. Inside Source, as you know, is very focused on promoting wellness at work and all our projects generally provide office furniture and equipment that helps people enjoy a healthier workday, so this is a great fit.
If you would like to know more about the WELL Building Standard® and the WELL Certification™ Program, there is more information here: http://www.wellcertified.com/why-well If you’d like to know more about people friendly office systems, please contact us here: email@example.com