Sceptics among us might say that we don’t need another building standard, but when you consider that we spend over 90% of our time indoors, it would seem prudent that the physical places where we live, work and play should be built for health and wellness. The WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) is the first building standard to focus on just that – the health and wellness of the people in buildings – and is set to become the benchmark across the globe.
The workplace environment can have a huge impact on the health of an employee. Indoor air pollutants such as solvents from paints or cleaners, poor lighting, or noisy and overcrowded offices can all contribute to sick-building syndrome, poor health and stress among workers. When you put health and wellbeing at the centre of any design brief, it will have a positive impact on staff. Put simply: a building that is good for the worker, is also good for the bottom line.
Informed by a seven-year programme of scientific and medical research and peer-reviewed studies, the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) is a rating based system that sets performance requirements on seven ‘Concepts’ – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind – and demonstrates the connection between a building and its impact on people’s health and wellness. This can help create an environment that improves nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and performance of its occupants.
The needs and requirements of people within a building is something that everybody can identify with, irrespective of where you are from and what belief system you have. The health and wellbeing agenda is looking at the things we connect with, both purposefully and with an end in mind. This will help drive and encourage the owners of a building or company to connect with their staff better. When you work for a large organisation, it’s sometimes hard to feel connected with it. By creating an environment that is better for employees, there is a greater likelihood of them being connected to their workplace, from which they can be productive and flourish.
The industry’s first benchmark for human health and wellness is a step in the right direction and something we are going to be adopting and encouraging. It’s good for us all to work for organisations that are actually interested in their people and take employee health and wellbeing seriously. This is an important factor when choosing where you work. What is the ethos of the company and how transparent is it?
Creating sustainable buildings which make occupants feel better as well as happier and more productive should therefore be a given. It should become part of the culture of a business. The challenge is how do we adopt wellness in the same way that we have embraced sustainability? We wholeheartedly believe that wellbeing should be a part of every building whether it’s a home, school, hospital or an office and look forward to working with project teams to identify how they can reach the various levels of WELL Certification. After all, why should anyone be in a building which is detrimental to their health?
Written by Darren Evans, managing director, Darren Evans Assessments.