Driving the healthy building conversation through research

Driving the healthy building conversation through research

Thursday, November 19, 2015
/ By:
Judith Webb

Press Release

It’s hard to believe another Greenbuild is already upon us! Last fall, surrounding Greenbuild 2014, we launched v1.0 of the WELL Building Standard, and it has been tremendously rewarding to watch human health and well-being increasingly become a part of the sustainability conversation. In just one year, nearly 20 million square feet of projects have registered or become certified under the WELL Building Standard in 12 countries, across five continents. A majority of these projects are also certified or pursuing LEED or other green building certification systems, proving that health, wellness and sustainability go hand in hand. During this week’s conference, a number of sessions and workshops address human sustainability, and with new research continually underscoring the importance of the built environment on our health and well-being, it’s an invigorating time to help drive this revolution.  

A new study about the impact of indoor office environments on workers' cognitive function, published last month by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University, makes the healthy building conversation at Greenbuild this year all the more timely. The study found the overall cognitive performance scores of those who worked in environments with levels of carbon dioxide that are typically found in buildings were lower than those of participants who worked in low-CO2 environments. The Harvard study confirms a 2012 study led by Usha Satish at SUNY Upstate University, which also found that higher levels of carbon dioxide could negatively affect several measures of cognitive ability. The WELL Building Standard helps ensure optimal indoor air quality to support the health and well-being of building occupants.

For employers, more than 90 percent of an office building’s cost is the employees inside of the building. Investing in the health and well-being of employees has the potential to yield a valuable return on investment—including increased employee productivity and satisfaction, stronger corporate responsibility effort and a reduction in turnover and absenteeism.

As more projects register and become WELL-certified, we are excited to gather more of our own findings and evidence that demonstrate the value proposition for WELL certification. The first post-occupancy study for a WELL-certified office space provided encouraging results. CBRE Group Inc.’s global corporate headquarters in downtown Los Angeles became the first commercial office building in the world to be WELL-certified through the pilot program, and it conducted an employee survey one year post-occupancy. Employees reported that the new space created a positive effect on their health and well-being: 83 percent of employees felt more productive in the new space, 74 percent reported the new space had a positive impact on their business performance and 93 percent said they would not go back to the old way of working.

As health and wellness considerations are increasingly prioritized rather than viewed as "nice to have," it is an honor to be surrounded by those at the forefront of the healthy building movement at Greenbuild, and to witness some of the most innovative contributions to the field yet. Here’s to continuing to expand the reach of healthy indoor environments and their positive effects across all areas of our lives!