If there is one thing the past year’s focus on the COVID-19 crisis has brought to the public’s attention, it’s the importance of health and mental wellbeing.
Comparatively few people, however, will be aware that there is actually a WELL Standard for developers to follow to enhance their buildings and their contribution to the wellbeing of those who use them.
In the International Well Building Institute’s (IWBI) words, WELL is “the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness”.
WELL concepts cover a range of key areas and are linked to improved productivity and reduced sick days – in turn enabling property owners to seek higher rental incomes due to compliance with the Standard.
In the area of air, for example, issues such as VOC levels and air quality monitoring are assessed, and dehumidification levels are checked in relation to thermal comfort.
The World Green Building Council says “productivity improvements of 8%-11% are not uncommon as a result of better air quality”.
Water quality testing and potential filtering requirements are on the checklist, as are maximum sound levels and sound barriers, plus sound mapping.
Controls on materials and cleaning products used, feature, alongside checks for shading and minimum standards for light.
Assessments seek innovation ‘that goes above and beyond requirements’, standards to promote healthier diets, ergonomic workplaces, encouragement of stair/corridor use promoting education and stakeholder engagement and education and support for employees.
While some features rely more on the business culture of a building’s occupier, there are many physical aspects the design team or subsequent owners/landlords can influence.
Absenteeism can be helped, research indicates, by having a healthier workplace which, in turn, saves businesses money with surveys indicating the average UK employees takes between four and six days off sick each year at a cost of £3,500 per staff member.
And estimated to cost businesses twice as much is presenteeism – being at work while ill and less productive, plus potentially infecting colleagues.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the single largest cause of long-term absence from work is mental ill health (59%), followed closely by stress (54%) and accountants Deloitte estimates that mental ill health costs UK employers between £33bn and £42bn per year.
Strong links between the workplace environment and mental health have been identified, with research indicating strong connections between mental health and biophilic design (the positive effect of green space) and good nutrition – all of which can be impacted by the physical work environment.
Maximising the use of natural light and encouraging collaborative working and social interaction through carefully designed workspaces are some of the design features easily incorporated into new builds or fit-outs.
Air quality is another issue very much in the news and a number of monitoring and servicing arrangements are offered by our team.
Green walls can be included with relative ease into design projects and typify the WELL concept – ongoing continuous development, measurement and improvement.
So why not consider working with Syntegra on this journey? We have vast experience in all the assessments your design will need to be certified for the WELL standard and now offer them combined in one easy to access package.
If you’d like an initial consultation or informal conversation about our services and the benefits of this new service, please get in touch.