22 Aug Buildings designed for healthy office workers
You’ve probably heard of LEED certification. It’s a designation by the U.S. Green Building Council that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Commercial building owners can earn varying levels of this certification by investing in a number of ‘green’ upgrades. Buildings also can be constructed with LEED certification in mind.
While LEED’s focus is on sustainability and a building’s impact on the environment, a new type of certification for commercial buildings is being offered that focuses on employee health and wellness. The WELL Certification by the International Well Building Institute is designed for all types of commercial projects, including offices and warehouses. The certification is based on the result of numerous studies and research that shows our work surroundings affect our health and productivity. It’s designed to be a measure of how a building promotes health and wellness for those who work in it.
WELL certification assesses the interior environment and its effect on human health and well-being. Ten areas are assessed: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community. Companies can make changes and upgrades, such as offering standing desks, monitoring and addressing air quality, providing opportunities for exercise and upgrading to healthier lighting options, to increase their overall rating.
A number of businesses and organizations have reported positive results after achieving WELL certification. The American Society of Interior Designers, for example, reported a 16 percent productivity gain, increased engagement levels and lower levels of employee absenteeism in the two years after moving into its WELL-certified headquarters in Washington. The organization spent about $2 million making changes to achieve certification.
Even though LEED is more about sustainability, energy efficiency and the environment and WELL is more about employee health and performance, the standards for the two overlap significantly. That has led more companies to pursue both standards at the same time.