The UK embraces wellness

Sophie Eastwood, board director of YEP Global



Health and wellbeing increasingly sit at the top of the agenda, and not just for healthcare environments. It’s now a must in office design and is growing in importance across residential, leisure and mixed-use development.

If we look at the take up of the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) in Europe, there are now more than 250 projects across 15 countries now engaged with the healthy building certification scheme. This represents 25% of WELL™ projects by sq ft globally.

We know, in a workplace context, that a focus on enhancing workplace wellbeing has significant positive impacts on productivity. For example, improved air quality can enhance cognition by as much as 61%; drinking ample fresh water can increase productivity by 14%; and an office design that enhances movement can boost productivity by 12%.

The UK is making a significant contribution. The tp bennett-designed Porter Building in Slough is the first project in the country to achieve WELL Core & Shell Certification, earning gold and making the 120,000 sq ft building from Landid and Brockton one of the healthiest office buildings in the country.

Elsewhere in the UK, multi-disciplinary engineering and sustainability consultancy Hilson Moran achieved gold WELL Certification for its new Manchester office in Bruntwood’s Neo Building. It was the first project outside of London to achieve gold and only the third project in the UK to achieve the standard.

What is heartening with this particular project is that Hilson Moran was both client and consultant. This means our industry isn’t just creating environments focused on wellbeing for clients, we are doing it for our own businesses for the benefit of our staff too. Hilson Moran undertook a Staff Occupancy Survey prior to and following its relocation using the established BUS methodology, which showed satisfaction levels in its new space in the top 5% of all buildings in the BUS database. The office will continue to be measured on an annual basis to monitor performance and effectiveness.

This is a trend that will no doubt continue, not just because it is viewed as a key responsibility for developers and employers, but because it delivers so many benefits at a social, economic and environmental level. It’s key to our sustainability.