Last week, our team attended the New York City Chapter of CoreNet Global’s Sustainability Community’s discussion on the WELL Building Standard (WELL). The discussion was both interesting and informative, with many audience questions and real life applications in organizations in New York City. What was most beneficial about the event was learning about how the certification can positively impact the sustainability of the space, as well as the health of the occupants.
What is WELL?
WELL is one of the most comprehensive building standards that promotes health, well-being, and sustainability in the built environment. Spearheaded by Delos, a company whose goal is to building a healthier, more balanced and more sustainable spaces, WELL focuses on seven main areas, or “concepts”. These concepts help determine WELL Certification and take a look at more than just the bones and structure of the space, but how the space is also being used, and include the following:
- Air – Ensuring good air quality in the space through air treatment and cleaning processes, proper filtering, and air distribution
- Water – Providing clean, filtered water without potential pathogens, heavy metals, and sediment to occupants of the space
- Nourishment – Creating accessible, effective pantry spaces with healthy food options to increase intake and enhance healthy decision-making
- Light – Utilizing adequate natural light, as well as Circadian Lighting controls to change color and intensity throughout the day
- Fitness – Constructing dedicated areas for fitness, such as yoga areas and bicycles, while also providing furniture that can help with fitness such as sit to stand workstations
- Comfort – Including ways to control noise, spas and sauna facilities, and ensuring flooring tolerances allow for comfortable walking
- Mind – Encouraging healthy habits, mood and emotional balance, and stress management through education
The goal of these areas is to increase productivity, while improving health through better nutrition, fitness, mood, and sleep patterns for the users of the space. The focus of the standard essentially moves away from being space-centric to being more people-centric. Like the complementary LEED standard, which is also administered by the third party certification team a Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), WELL certifications are provided in three levels: WELL Silver, WELL Gold, and WELL Platinum.
Why Is WELL Important?
When looking at costs for modern companies, roughly 92% are attributed to personnel, their salaries, benefits, and other assets related to these operating costs. The design and construction of the building accounts for roughly 2%, with the other 6% going to normal operations and maintenance of the built environment. When it comes to the standard itself, research has found that with environments that have been certified, productivity and teamwork have increased with 83% of users feeling more productive and 93% reporting that they cal more easily collaborate with others in the space. In terms of health, 92% report that the environment has had a positive affect on their health and wellbeing, something that can be linked to lower healthcare costs, and decreased absenteeism.
Our Connection to WELL
As a Haworth Preferred Dealer, we are constantly aiming to align ourselves to the company’s practices and values that drive their organization. One of the most important aspects of Haworth’s mission is ensuring that they are socially responsible and sustainable. This ties into WELL almost perfectly, ensuring that they are allowing for the increased wellness of their members and the spaces they work in, as well as their clients that they provide innovative solutions to. Haworth is a pioneer of the WELL standard in the commercial furniture industry as one of the first to pursue certification. In fact, Haworth’s support of the certification has spanned worldwide with their showrooms in Los Angeles and Shanghai achieving WELL Certification. In fact, the Shanghai Showroom was the first WELL Certified environment in all of Asia. At the CoreNet event, Delos’ Natasha Frank spoke about the impact that WELL had for Haworth, especially in China due to the city’s poor air quality. Also on the panel, Haworth’s Brett Kaplan discussed how organic fruits and veggies, height-adjustable workstations, and a yoga room have all positively impacted the team at Haworth’s Los Angeles location. Employee engagement, productivity, and excitement for the space seems to be at the forefront of this moment, something any company would want for their employees in their space.