2017 Europe Property Report Underscores Growing Interest in Wellness Factors for Real Estate

2017 Europe Property Report Underscores Growing Interest in Wellness Factors for Real Estate

17 Jan 2017

(NEW YORK – Jan. 17) -- When JP Morgan Europe released its Europe Property Report this week, there was a new category in their trends coverage – Real Estate and Well-Being. That’s good news for the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) and its WELL Building Standard™ (WELL), which is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being.

“I was fortunate enough to speak at this conference this year,” said IWBI Founder Paul Scialla, “and I was extremely encouraged by the financial community’s significant interest in health and wellness as a value driver for quality real estate. The report underscores what we’ve known all along – that investing in building sustainability can lower operational costs, but that when you couple that with investing in the aspects of a building that can enhance your employees’ health and well-being, you gain productivity and other key benefits that show up in a more engaged workforce and your bottom line.”

The Global Wellness Institute notes that the global wellness economy amounted to $3.7 trillion in 2015, and that the market for wellness in real estate is gaining traction. The market for residential, hospitality, and mixed-used real estate that incorporates wellness elements into its design, construction, amenities and services was one of the fastest-growing wellness sectors from 2013-2015, growing 19% to $118.6bn.

The JPM report specifically called out IWBI’s WELL Building Standard, which focuses on helping building owners and operators incorporate design and operational features that have health and wellness impacts into both new and existing buildings. These features typically build on sustainability concepts introduced by the prevailing green building rating standards -- LEED, Green Star, BREEAM, and the Living Building Challenge – and take them to the next level.

“One of the most exciting aspects of WELL is that it has given the market a tool to create a common language around health and well-being aspects of the built environment,” said IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “That in turn is helping us frame research that validates for both investors and tenants the performance impacts of using WELL. If we want people to be healthier, we have to make it easy for them to be healthy, and if we rethink the role of the built environment in the public health agenda, we’re adding value to real estate assets and valuing people’s health at the same time. That’s huge.”

The JPM report noted findings from the World Green Building Council, which highlighted six design and construction elements that impact health and well-being in buildings:

  • Indoor air quality. Research suggests that better air quality can result in an 8-11% productivity increase.
  • Thermal comfort. A modest degree of personal control over thermal comfort can return single-digit improvements in productivity.
  • Daylight and lighting. Being close to daylight results in more optimal sleep. Productivity of focused work increased by 15% for workers close to a window. The report cites a study by neuroscientists which suggests that office workers with windows received 173% more white light exposure during work hours, and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.
  • Biophilla. Being close to nature, improves productivity and the feeling of wellbeing.
  • Noise. Exposure to noise lowers productivity. Performance can drop up to 66% when exposed to distracting noise.
  • Active design. Having access to an on-site gym, bicycle storage and access to green space lowers the number of sick days for those who actively use these facilities.

“Now the benefits are quantifiable: lower absenteeism, lower staff turnover, higher revenue per employee; reduced medical costs, fewer medical complaints; fewer physical complaints,” said Fedrizzi. “If operating costs are about 90% salaries and benefits for most companies, a 10% variance in staff costs can have a significant impact on a company’s overall financial performance. The certification process as defined by WELL gives companies a roadmap to achieve a healthier, more engaged work force through improvement in their buildings. It’s not a small thing.”

About the International WELL Building Institute™
The International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. Public benefit corporations like IWBI are an emerging U.S. structure for corporations committed to balancing public benefits with profitability – harnessing the power of private capital for greater good. IWBI administers the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) – a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of buildings that impact the health and well-being of the people who live, work, and learn in them. Fulfilling the vision of IWBI Founder Paul Scialla, IWBI has a pioneering altruistic capitalism model that will address social responsibility and demonstrate a sustainable model for philanthropy. IWBI has committed to direct 51 percent of net profits, after taxes, generated by registration fees, certification fees and recertification fees received from real estate projects applying for WELL Certification toward charitable contributions and impact investment focused on health, wellness and the built environment. IWBI was established in 2013 pursuant to a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to improve the way people live by developing spaces that enhance occupant health and quality of life by sharing the WELL Building Standard globally. www.wellcertified.com

About the WELL Building Standard™
The WELL Building Standard (WELL) is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being. Launched in 2014, more than 325 projects encompassing 70 million square feet are now registered or certified under the WELL Building Standard in 27 countries. WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation committed to improving human health and well-being through the built environment. IWBI has committed to direct 51 per cent of net profits, after taxes, generated by registration, certification and recertification fees received from real estate projects applying for WELL Certification toward charitable contributions and impact investment focused on health, wellness and the built environment. www.wellcertified.com

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