A growing body of research confirms what many already suspected: that the pressures of work and long hours spent indoors can cause significant detriment to our health. In fact, we spend on average 90% of our lives indoors. This presents a unique opportunity to design and construct spaces that act as safe havens, actively improving the wellbeing of those living and working inside.
In response, the WELL Building Standard was developed and released in 2014 as the first building certification to focus purely on human health. It has quickly gained momentum with several global corporates applying WELL across their portfolios.
In practice, WELL has similarities with BREEAM and LEED (e.g. specific design criteria, a scoring system based on preconditions and optional additional credits, third-party certification), but places a heavy emphasis on performance testing for air, water and light quality. A third-party assessor visits the building post-completion to carry out an inspection, take measurements and samples, to verify that the property meets the standard’s criteria in operation.
Once certification is achieved it is valid for three years during which time the project may display a WELL plaque and use the WELL logo in corporate literature.
As certified WELL Accredited Professionals, Element 4 can assist, advise and support projects through the certification process.
WELL for Landlords, Asset Managers & Investors
WELL Core certification is available for shell & core and Cat A building projects seeking to implement fundamental features into the entire base building for the benefit of current or future tenants. It addresses elements such as glazing, vertical movement, acoustics, heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and water quality. It also encourages the provision of on-site leisure facilities, breakout or quiet areas, community spaces and access to local amenities that support wellness.
For landlords and asset managers, WELL Core certified projects offer a powerful incentive for tenants seeking to support the health and productivity of their occupants. It also enables future tenants to more easily pursue WELL certification for their interior fit out. In fact, 74% of European occupiers have a wellbeing programme in place, which enables landlords to engage with tenants by providing real estate that supports their goals.
Because there are clear financial incentives for tenants to occupy ‘well’ workplaces, there will be an increasing demand for real estate that supports occupant wellbeing. As these expectations become the norm, investors who get their offering right could see a tangible premium – three separate research studies in Canada found buildings that demonstrate positive impacts on wellbeing had a higher market value with 28% saying they were able to achieve premium rents and 46% reporting that spaces let more quickly.
WELL for Employers & Building Occupants
Many employers have found that investing in an effective wellbeing strategy can improve employee health and happiness, increase productivity, boost creativity and problem-solving skills, reduce staff turnover and build a satisfied, more engaged workforce. In addition, with the current shortage of skilled labour presenting one of the biggest threats to business, employers can optimise their premises to attract and retain the brightest candidates.
An American study conducted between 2000 and 2014 found that companies with a strong culture of health and wellbeing outperformed the rest of the S&P 500 by a factor of 3:1. In the UK, FTSE100 companies that prioritise employee engagement & wellbeing have been shown to outperform the rest of the stock market by 10%.
For employers, WELL provides a systematic approach to a wide range of wellbeing factors, encompassing both real estate and human resources. WELL certified projects have shown reduced levels of absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced staff attrition, increased attractiveness to candidates, increased staff satisfaction and self-reported productivity.
WELL certification may be achieved by building occupiers, either as part of a multi- or single-tenanted building or by building owner occupiers. The standard requires a broad good practice across both the physical design of the property and the policies and procedures of the organisation to support staff wellbeing. In addition to some of the WELL Core features mentioned above, considerations for occupiers include providing active furnishings, quiet rooms, addiction support counselling and healthy nutrition.