The WELL Building Standard has been a long time coming and is set to take Australia by storm.
It represents the most powerful merge yet between real estate and the world’s fastest growing industry: wellness.
The WELL v1 standard includes two parts, the base building and the tenancy. This gives more opportunity to tenants to be WELL compliant whether or not their landlord wants to participate.
Already, 22 million square feet of buildings have been registered for WELL certification globally, and that number is growing fast.
It is set to pressure companies who are falling out of step with industry trends to review workplace well-being in the same way that Green Star transformed built-environment sustainability. Together, both ratings provide unprecedented synergy in long-term well-being and give greater emphasis on human-centred design.
There are seven concepts that make up the WELL standard: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.
The standard considers 102 features for the WELL certification, based on a range of medical studies that arguably give substantial weight to what many designers have always believed. Many of the WELL features are based on existing government standards as well as other key industry standards.
As the most robust measure of health and well-being on the market, the WELL Building Standard has seen interest by companies such as Grocon, Macquarie Bank, Mirvac, Lend Lease, Frasers Property and DEXUS.
Macquarie Bank has already received a Platinum WELL certification for its 50 Martin Place building as well as certification for its 1 Shelley Street in Sydney.
DEXUS’ 480 Queen Street in Brisbane is another WELL certification project that is new and innovative. It features highly collaborative formal and informal areas for work as well as a food and beverage precinct, a nature-based in-building parkland that is 1,400 square metres, and a tree grove rooftop area. The building has 600 bike spaces, 500 lockers, and 45 male and female shower facilities, encouraging physical activity, as well as many more WELL features.
From the first WELL-certified pilot office in Los Angeles, the CBRE Headquarters, 83 per cent of employees said they felt more productive, 92 per cent said that the space had a positive impact on their health and well-being and 94 per cent said the space had a positive impact on their business performance.
WELL provides a meaningful and science-based approach to addressing employee issues around flexibility, physical and mental health. Many of the features encourage companies to take a more active stand to change behaviour on making positive lifestyle choices through education, policy and culture. Companies are now asked to draw employees' attention to signs about healthy eating and nutrition around the workplace.
One of the main differences noted between the Green Star program and WELL standard is shown in the air filtering and lighting systems used in the buildings. WELL emphasises the need to change lights to fit with our circadian rhythms.
Air quality considers the filters being used in the building and the need for air quality to be better than the outside air. However, one conflict with Green Star could potentially arise, as more energy may be needed to meet the air filtration standards.
The WELL v1 standard has been optimised for commercial and institutional office buildings. What will be even more game changing in Australia is the roll-out of more active WELL certifications in the residential property market.
Australia’s leadership in the built-environment is certainly ready to thrive in this new innovative and comprehensive framework for well-being.