WELL Provides Roadmap for Designing for Health in Qatar and MENA

WELL Provides Roadmap for Designing for Health in Qatar and MENA

Thursday, April 30, 2015
/ By:
Jamie Matos

WELL Certification

The WELL Building Standard was introduced in Qatar to provide a roadmap for designing buildings that support wellness and to deliver an important tool that can help overcome health issues, of which aspects of the built environment can contribute. The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) held its first international WELL Workshop and IWBI Founder Paul Scialla delivered closing remarks at the Qatar Green Building Council's (QGBC) First Annual Conference (April 27-28, 2015) in Doha, to help educate and engage the industry about the importance of building design on health. During his remarks, Paul Scialla urged leaders in Qatar and throughout the Middle East and North Africa region to invest in its people’s health, wellness and happiness through the built environment. Through WELL Certification, building designers, developers, owners, and facilities managers can help these countries improve the wellbeing of building occupants. "WELL is a body of knowledge that attempts to identify various health domains we can address through the built environment – cardiovascular health, immune health, and emotional health," said Scialla. The inaugural conference comes at a time when Qatar and the broader region are experiencing high rates of obesity and other health risk factors such as insufficient physical activity, diabetes, and high blood pressure – alongside major growth in the development of new buildings:

  • A first-of-its-kind study analyzing 188 countries released in 2013 in the UK medical journal, The Lancet, shows that more than 58 percent of men and 65 percent of women across the Middle East and North Africa were found to be either overweight or obese in 2013. That translates to an estimated 259 million overweight (180 million) or obese (79 million) people living in the region as of 2013.
  • Diabetes is high throughout the Middle East due to increasingly sedentary lifestyles, higher life expectancy and obesity. According to the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean , six of the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world are from the region – including Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. By 2025, the number of people with diabetes is expected to more than double in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region.
  • Qatar has some of the highest rates of health risk factors in adults, with a 41.4 percent rate of obesity, 45.9 percent not getting enough physical activity, and 32 percent experiencing high blood pressure.

As sustainability and wellness go hand-in-hand, WELL complements international green building rating programs such as LEED. In addition, third-party certification for WELL is provided through IWBI’s collaboration with the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the same organization that administers LEED certification. "WELL builds on the green building movement's strong foundations of energy and the environment, and goes further into the human experience," Scialla added. “WELL is being offered as a complement (to LEED), an advanced discussion on people." For future dates and locations of WELL Workshops, please visit www.wellcertified.com/learn. You can also take the one-hour, online GBCI approved CE course, Introduction to the WELL Building Standard. For questions related to WELL educational opportunities, contact education@wellcertified.com.