With “social distancing” in full force, most of us in commercial real estate are working from home right now. As I sit writing this from the comfort of my home office, I long for a return to our workspace. I miss being with the PlanForce team and meeting in person with clients. When we all can go back to the office, I wonder how our perceptions of communal life will have changed. As a WELL-accredited commercial interior designer, I plan to begin placing more emphasis on designing workplaces that help keep people healthy. I want you to join this effort.
Why WELL Design Matters
The goal of WELL design is improving the health, wellbeing and comfort of people using commercial buildings. As a population, we spend, on average, 90% of our time indoors — and a good portion of that is in commercial and institutional facilities. So, anything we can do to improve our buildings to keep people healthy contributes to a vibrant community. Moreover, when people are healthy, they show up more and perform better while at work. With less sick time people and companies incur lower healthcare costs improving the bottom line and helping people thrive. I believe your primary business asset is your people and the motivation should be clear to support and improve their health, well-being and comfort. Your built environment is a tool you can use in that effort.
WELL design is designed to work harmoniously with the LEED design principles. While LEED looks at a building from the perspective of how to maximize energy efficiency, the WELL focus is on making the built environment be as healthy for people as possible. Always evidence-based with measurable thresholds, WELL provides building and business owners a method to harness the built environment as a vehicle to support human health, well-being, and comfort.
The WELL design standards are focused on seven concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind. These seven concepts are comprised of 105 features. Each feature addresses a specific aspect of occupant health, comfort, or knowledge. Completion of relevant features is scored for the building to achieve Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification. These design principles are not just about how you build the workspace but include workplace systems and culture. The idea is to design spaces and systems that encourage people to make healthier choices using scientifically-proven techniques.
We will survive the current pandemic. What we do to protect and prepare our world when the current danger is past is up to us. Your building is your environment — design it for good health.
If you are involved in commercial buildings as an owner, designer, builder, property manager, occupant, or guest, look to WELL as a guide to contribute to the health and well being of our community. For ideas on how to make your workspace healthier, let’s connect over a virtual coffee.