There is an upsurge of interest in healthy buildings.
Wellness within a building can be perceived as removed from hard data – difficult to value, amorphous and unsubstantiated. But is it?
As a commercial real estate appraiser with a LEED-AP BD+C designation, I can say that healthy buildings and wellness within accrue to the bottom line. While it may be more difficult to connect the dots between increased worker health and productivity and building value, that is where an experienced commercial real estate appraiser combines science and math with experience and artistry in valuation. What then, is the connection?
Productive employees increase their company’s profitability, enabling them to afford higher rents in better buildings. Building owners benefit by tenant retention when their building’s sustainability and green best practices are in alignment with their tenants’ policies. Healthy, green buildings are, quite simply, more valuable buildings.
There is a growing body of study, including one from Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health, that links upgraded indoor air quality and worker productivity that, in turn, improves a company’s bottom line. Thus, employers, architects, developers and other building owners are becoming more aware of the monetary value of healthy buildings and offices.
The topic of wellness in office facilities can fill volumes because it covers everything from lighting to ergonomic seating; daylight vs. indoor light; green plants that provide oxygen and relaxation to workers; on-site food options; exercise, relaxation and meditation rooms; use of color; proximity to other workers; cubicles vs. open work spaces; workplace temperature; the use of natural materials (and, new, what designers are calling “sophisticated recycle” with a higher aesthetic); encouraging employees to take the stairs; providing stand-up desks; comfortable open areas for collaboration and more protected spaces for introverts and solitary workers; air quality; and so much more.
The specifics of the challenges and strategies of biophilic design, which seeks to reconnect people to nature where we live, work, play and learn, are best left to wellness professionals, architects and sustainability experts, but do have one more comment on the bottom line.
With so much to take into account, how do you measure health and wellness as opposed to something like energy usage? The answer includes “certifications”, another way of saying let the experts decide.
Nearly a year ago, we wrote about a new certification, WELL from the International WELL Building Institute. I called it, rightly so, the one to watch as it positions your company and property as being a leader in healthy spaces. Their website currently lists more than 530 projects totaling over 100 million square feet that are applying WELL concepts. Building owners can register their project onsite and explore becoming WELL certified.
If you’re interested in reading about more green topics as they affect commercial properties, you’ll find articles here on solar, greenhouse gas emissions, green roofs and how cats, rats, bats and sharks are helping.
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By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C strong> President, Metropolitan Valuation Services