The future of the building industry is here.
Headlined as ‘the next trillion dollar industry’¹, health and wellbeing in the building industry has been gaining momentum and popularity since the introduction of the WELL Building Standard to the US in 2013.
2015 marked the arrival of the WELL Building Standard in the UK. As a result, awareness of health and wellbeing has been gaining momentum across the building sector. With some high-profile projects registering for WELL certification (such as the innovative London Bishopsgate skyscraper), it would appear that the transition to healthier buildings is WELL under way.
More than 25 million square feet of projects have already registered or certified to the standard (WELL; 2016)
What the WELL?
An assessment methodology, similar to BREEAM or LEED, WELL provides a framework to aid the transition to a ‘healthy’ building, and provide internationally recognised certification.
Whether you’re designing an office, home, restaurant or retail space, ‘healthy living’ concepts can be implemented across the entire industry. Working alongside the traditional emphasis on building performance, Health and Wellbeing marries intelligent design with thoughtful operation to focus on the outcome of the building user – their health, their productivity, and therefore ultimately for commercial buildings, their company’s revenue.
But what could this mean for your building?
It could be smart lighting that mimics sunlight’s natural benefits on the rhythm of the human body; green spaces incorporated with cutting edge technology to provide relaxation and optimal air quality; occupant comfort that is truly multi-sensory (olfactory, acoustic, ergonomic, thermal and visual) and encouraging healthy choices in nourishment, hydration and physical activity that stimulate better emotional and physical health.
It means people working in offices designed to maximise daylight, retail spaces that provide a ‘visitor experience’, and hotels that offer optimal air and water quality as well as reducing traveller jetlag with circadian lighting. Green space can become interior design, and static office environments could become a thing of the past. Energy is optimised – both in efficiency of use by the building, and in the choice of foodstuffs that fuel the people within it.
Health and Wellbeing isn’t just a box-ticking exercise or a design stage consideration. It’s about making choices that impact operations, lifestyle and user behaviour.
More than just a pretty space
The benefits of incorporating Health and Wellbeing go far beyond providing pleasant environments.
Internationally recognised industry bodies (including UK and World Green Building Councils) have proclaimed the results of research undertaken into Health and Wellbeing. The quantitative evidence of the economic benefit of investing in human wellbeing is persuasive, particularly in the commercial sector.
The focus of the research is people, and more specifically, the price of performance. 90% of a business’ expenditure in a 30 year cycle is invested in personnel. Investing in people, therefore, can provide a sizeable return.
Improved health and wellbeing has been seen to lead to a reduction in absenteeism, decreased presenteeism, higher staff retention, lower recruitment and training costs, better emotional wellbeing and reduced stress – and consequently, increased productivity and company revenue.
We spend 90% of our time indoors. Investing in this environment is a provision for better performance. ‘Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices’ (WGBC; 2014)
A healthy shade of green
A focus on Health and Wellbeing can make your building a shade greener.
Health and Wellbeing has always existed as an environmental consideration within traditional, performance-focused building standards (an entire BREEAM section for example). It has become commonplace across the industry to consider sustainability of resources (such as energy, waste and water), which we monitor, regulate and strive to improve.
The focus of health and wellbeing is to apply sustainability concepts to people – be it your workforce, your customers or your clients. The innovative concept of health and wellbeing is to consider people as a resource, and provide equal consideration to them as to conventional regulated resources.
WELL Certification can work hand-in-hand with BREEAM, LEED and equivalent building standards. Providing high quality working and living environments that are healthy and productive will become the new norm for sustainability.
Get WELL soon
The business case is convincing. The stage has been set globally, and the trend is accelerating across the UK building industry.
Are you interested in incorporating Health and Wellbeing into an upcoming project or your own office?
We offer workshops to provide a thorough background and assess project applicability, provide WELL pre-assessments and offer early stage operational guidance.
XCO2 can help you move to the cutting edge of the building industry.
¹ McKinsey & Company 2012 ‘Healthy, wealthy and (maybe) wise: The emerging trillion-dollar market for health and wellness’