WELL in Japan: Japanese firms poised to elevate health and wellness through WELL

WELL in Japan: Japanese firms poised to elevate health and wellness through WELL

Friday, June 29, 2018
/ By:
Kristen Coco

In the News

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes. Nowhere has this credo been more relevant than in Japan. 

As an island nation in which 94 percent of the population lives in urban areas1 due to its largely mountainous terrain, Japan has long been efficient and creative in its approach to providing homes and workplaces for its 120 million-plus inhabitants.

It is also a country whose culture is well regarded for its respect for the natural environment, as well as a strong devotion to health, nutrition and fitness – leading to perhaps the longest life expectancy in the world.2 It is therefore not surprising that select real estate, construction, engineering, architecture and design firms in Japan are now bringing human health and well-being to the forefront of development conversations that have to date focused primarily on environmental sustainability. 

IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi recently visited Japan and attended Green Building Japan’s (GBJ) 5th Anniversary Symposium in a nod to the tremendous health and wellness market transformation taking place there. Two of Japan’s largest and most revered companies in the industry are currently leading the charge.

Through its “wellness construction” philosophy, Obayashi Corporation has identified that healthy activities and improved interior environmental factors are critical not only for building users, but also for those engaged in design and construction, including site employees, trade partners and project managers. Indeed, healthier and more productive project teams are more likely to deliver higher quality projects for their valued clients.

Obayashi’s Techno-station, the main building at the Technical Research Institute (TRI) in Tokyo, is the first project in Japan to be awarded WELL Certification. The project earned the WELL Certified™ award at the Gold level. As an existing interiors project that has been used as an office building and occupant research facility since 2010, Techno-station’s energy conservation ability, air quality, water, nutrition, indoor fitness environment and lighting systems have all undergone a re-evaluation based on WELL features. The user flow inside the office space, the surrounding natural environment, working style of residents and workplace ergonomics were also considered in the evaluation criteria – further evidence of Obayashi’s view that health and well-being contributes to the positive promotion of its customers’ business and improved health of employees.

“I’m honored to present the first WELL Certified award in Japan to Obayashi for its Techno-station at the Technical Research Institute. Obayashi believes that its employees, trade partners and projects all deserve the benefits of a healthy space,” said Fedrizzi in a ceremony to recognize the project.  

Similarly, Shimizu’s heritage has long been recognized for its client focus and innovation in the built environment. As a leading firm in construction, architectural, engineering and property services, Shimizu Corporation is leveraging its extensive network of sustainable building services clients to expand the global reach of the WELL Building Standard, beginning with its Yokohama Grangate project in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. 

Situated in the city’s central business district of Minato Minai near the public transportation hub of Shin-Takashima Station, the 19-story, 1,046,750 square-foot office tower is envisioned to be a next generation workplace that fully integrates health and well-being through features that may also help offset the challenge faced by Japanese companies to find qualified, talented workers to fill available jobs. The project is Japan’s first WELL Precertified project on its way toward pursuing WELL Core & Shell Certification, and is slated for completion in 2020, when it is expected to be home to a large number of employees, shoppers and other visitors.

”Shimizu is a global powerhouse in the real estate market and its commitment to WELL certification for its projects and WELL AP designations for its people is a strong testament to its leadership,” noted Fedrizzi.

Through its “Smart Vision 2020” initiative, Shimizu is also dedicated to creating consistent value for clients and advancing industry best practices and education from within its workforce. As part of this initiative, the firm is supporting 150 of its employees to achieve the WELL AP credential. Two employees are applying to IWBI’s WELL Faculty program as they strive to develop the depth of knowledge and breadth of experience that will make them highly sought after instructors and facilitators on WELL.

“This level of support puts a bright spotlight on how we can improve the health and well-being of employees and colleagues by putting them at the center of every decision we make about the facilities in which they spend so much of their time. We’re excited about the impact we can make together,” added Fedrizzi. 

As WELL emerges in Japan and elsewhere, and as the available body of research grows to underscore the impact indoor spaces can have on the health and wellness of the people inside of the buildings, so does the opportunity to improve the way people live by creating spaces that enhance their health and quality of life. With nine projects in Japan encompassing nearly 1.8 million square feet and many more in the pipeline, it will be the industry’s early leaders who demonstrate the increasing importance of focusing on both human and environmental sustainability in buildings and communities.

The WELL Building Standard, guidebooks, addenda and WELL AP resources are all available on the IWBI website in Japanese. Access WELL resources in Japanese.