Mike Scott reports on the WELL Building standard, which aims to optimise health and wellbeing

While most building standards, such as BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), measure the environmental aspects of developments, the WELL Building Standard monitors and certifies the impact they have on human health.

Covering seven core concepts of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind, the standard “explores how design, operations and behaviours within the places where we live, work, learn and play can be optimised to advance human health and wellbeing,” according to the International WELL Building Institute, which developed the standard.

The standard encourages you to use natural products that are not harmful to health

The global rating system, which was launched in 2014 and developed by environmental professionals and doctors together, is the first to be focused exclusively on the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness, it claims.

Consulting engineer Cundall’s London headquarters became one of the first buildings in Europe to achieve the WELL Building Standard’s gold rating. “The standard promotes occupier satisfaction, looking at things like air quality and what pollutants are entering the building,” says sustainability partner Simon Wyatt. “It encourages you to use natural products that are not harmful to health.”

The company’s global head of sustainability Amie Shuttleworth, who is based in Hong Kong, adds: “We spend around 90% of our lives indoors. Places of work, where we spend much of our waking hours, have lasting impacts on our bodies, our minds and can even affect how we sleep.”

Property firm Mirvac's Gold WELL-certified headquarters in New South Wales. (Credit: IWBI)

Making health and wellness central to a company, and to its real estate development, makes economic sense, WELL believes. “By placing people at the heart of design, construction, operations and development decisions, companies have the ability to add value to real estate assets, generate savings in personnel costs, improve productivity, and better recruit and retain talent,” it says.

Cundall’s office in London saw a 27% drop in staff turnover compared with the previous year, saving £122,000, and 50% lower absenteeism than the previous year, leading to an annual saving of £90,000, after gaining WELL certification, while a planted wall lowers the need for ventilation by 11%, and reflective coatings bring 30% more daylight to the office than a standard floorplan would.

Main picture credit: Cundall

This article is part the in-depth Built Environment Briefing. See also:

22 cities at vanguard of global drive to cut climate impact of buildings

Why the buildings sector needs a LED light bulb moment

Salesforce thinks big to cut its water impact

Singapore leads way as Asia’s developers wake up to climate risk

Building sector takes concrete steps to address ‘hidden’ emissions

Getting to the bottom of the green buildings conundrum

Leading companies partner with London in zero-carbon push

Good for the planet, good for the people

BREEAM  WELL Building Standard  Cundall  LEED 

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