For some companies, focusing on human health is a natural progression
from environmental sustainability. “We’ve been doing LEED since 2008,
and have always tried to optimize the buildings for health and the
environment,” says Jacquelynn Henke, sustainability and innovation director
at TD Bank, which operates 25 million square feet of real estate in the
United States and Canada—and has five WELL projects completed or
in progress. “What we’ve discovered is that WELL has given a name to
the strategy and design elements that we’ve already incorporated,
such as sit-stand desks, water stations, and natural lighting, and highlighted
additional areas for us to focus on.”
At BCCI Construction Company, a San Francisco Bay Area contractor,
pursuing WELL in addition to LEED certification for the renovation of its
17,000-square-foot headquarters was also a way to showcase its new
professional services group. “We wanted to show that our headquarters
was not just a testament to our quality of construction, but the services
that we provide in architecture, design, and sustainability,” reveals
Kena David, sustainability manager at BCCI.
Employee recruitment and retention are another incentive. In a 2016 CBRE
survey of millennials, 78 percent said that the quality of the workspace
was a key factor in their choice of employer and 69 percent would trade
other benefits for a better workspace. In Asia and India, where air pollution
is a major issue, wellness certification can be a real selling point (an air-quality certification program called RESET has been gaining traction there).
“Companies there are very motivated to create healthy workplaces since
they are losing people due to serious health risks. The certification provides
an objective measure that can be trusted and is not just lip service,”
explains Russ Drinker, global director of architecture, sustainability, and
environmental wellness in the San Francisco office of M Moser Associates.
There also are studies that link a healthy physical environment to increased
productivity. Though productivity gains are notoriously difficult to quantify,
companies can use such metrics as absenteeism, time spent in the office,
and turnover rate to track the success of their WELL projects, along with
pre- and post-occupancy surveys.
At the American Society of Interior Designers’ (ASID) headquarters, results
from such surveys already are showing the power of a healthy workplace.
In June of this year, the ASID office became the first space in the world
to achieve Platinum Level Certification for both the WELL Building Standard,
under WELL v1, and LEED, under the LEED ID+C rating system—the highest
recognition awarded by IWBI and USGBC, respectively.
Designed by Perkins+Will, the 8,500-square-foot office features human-centric design elements, including biophilic design strategies, sound masking
systems, rigorous water quality standards, and a circadian lighting system.
These design foundations are complemented by policies and procedures that
emphasize employee health and productivity.
The 23rd floor of the
TD Bank Tower in
Toronto is just one of
the company’s projects
that targeted WELL
(Image: TD Bank)
The ASID D.C.
LEED and WELL
(Image: Eric Laignel)