How does an office’s daylight affect how you sleep at night? What’s the relationship between bad smells and bad productivity? Or the relationship between your water intake and headaches? These are just three of the questions that our series on WELL building certification will answer. We’ve prepared these articles in cooperation with the Skanska company.
It was late one afternoon. The sun scorched down through the office’s windows, and not even a fan blade stirred. A few of the locals, hunched over their desks, pecked lazily and monotonously at their keyboards. A paper tumblewad rolled down the open-space aisle.
You could have cut the stuffy air with a knife, if you could find one through all the cigarette smoke in the kitchen. The sheriff had just stuffed himself and chugged a sarsaparilla—and was drowsing off locked into his own cell...
But thankfully just then the MINDFUL EIGHT smashed through the front door. These fearless heroes aren’t even stopped by the receptionist’s request that they sign the guestbook. Accompanied by the tones of classical music in the elevator, they ride up to make yet another office a healthier, more pleasant place to work and to live. What awaits them? Work in the eight areas represented by the WELL Building Standard certificate.
Green Is Grand, but Healthy Is Healthy
In recent years, office buildings have been trumping each other with “green certificates” like LEED and BREEAM. These primarily assess a building’s relationship with its surrounding environment. Their scorings reflect things like waste management, a project’s rainwater collection and use, and whether or not it increases local noise pollution. (By the way, a green building also means much lower operating costs.)
However, in recent years there has also been a growing focus on projects’ actual occupants—people often spend over a third of their productive lives in office buildings! So: how do you design an office environment so it’s as friendly as possible towards the human organism, and a place where people feel the best they can? WELL certificates seek to answer precisely these questions.
So Your Office Is a Place to Live Well
The international WELL Building Standard was first introduced in the USA in 2013. This assessment method actually has its roots in medical research that analyzed the effects of peoples’ long-term occupancy of buildings on their health and well-being.
The certificate assesses a total of 8 elements and their influence on humans via air quality (1), water quality (2), and access to light sources (3). It’s likewise focused on personal comfort (4), access to healthy food (5), and a building’s influence on people’s physical condition (6) and mental health (7). The last criterion is innovation (8).
“The innovation aspect gives applicants room to gain extra points by thinking up ‘something more’ for a project that will also help to improve the health of the people who are moving around in a building, working there, and spending most of their time there. Every innovation an applicant promotes must be supported with what’s basically an ‘essay’ on how it’s beneficial, and likewise a scientific assessment of whether or not that’s really true,” says Eva Nykodymová from Skanska Property.
In the next eight weeks, we’ll be presenting the eight basic elements of the WELL assessment to you on this site. To keep up with the perilous struggle of the MINDFUL EIGHT in the “Wild Workplace West” to create a better work environment, follow our Facebook or our profile on LinkedIn.
An Innovation Leader
By mid-April of 2018, only 11 projects worldwide had passed the certification process (in the “Core and Shell” category—i.e. from the standpoint of an assessment of the basic structure). Three office projects are currently vying for this prestigious certificate in the Czech Republic, and two are owned by Skanska.
“Building sustainable, environmentally friendly projects has been a part of our philosophy right from the start, just like building an environment that’s friendly towards its inhabitants—its future tenants. So even though WELL is new in the Czech Republic, some of its criteria are already met by a number of our finished projects, like Corso Court in Prague’s Karlín district,” says Skanska Property’s Marketing and Communication Coordinator Petra Machartová.
WELL certification covers eight areas that are decisive for a healthy office. We showed you seven of these pillars in previous articles; you’ll find them behind the links below.