An introduction to The International WELL Building Standard with Jozefa Lewis

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An introduction to The International WELL Building Standard with Jozefa Lewis

World Mental Health Day was set over 70 years ago by The World Federation for Mental Health who campaign for mental health awareness around the world, encouraging governments to place mental wellbeing on par with physical wellbeing. As we spend a lot of our time at work, it makes sense that mental health in the workplace should be a key area of consideration when looking at the overall picture of health.

At ODGroup we believe in the vision of The WELL Building Standard, which teaches that ‘Everyone deserves to live their best, healthiest life.’ Jozefa Lewis, ODGroup’s Sustainability and Wellbeing Manager, is a WELL Accredited Professional. We sat down with her to discuss the ins and outs of WELL and why she chose to become a WELL AP.

What is the WELL Building Standard?

The WELL Building Standard is a building certification which focuses on human health and wellbeing. Consisting of an evidence-based system, the standard is designed to spotlight elements of building design and business operations that have an influence on people, their health and wellbeing.

What are the main factors that are looked at in the WELL Building Standard?

The certification covers a broad range of wellbeing criteria, categorised into ten concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community. This holistic approach considers a range of criteria from air and water quality and the availability of healthy foods to access to natural light and support for mental health.

Icons of the WELL standard areas of focus

WELL Building Standard areas of focus

What are the benefits of WELL to businesses and their people?

The overall goal of the WELL Building Standard is to create a place that enables people to thrive. By pursuing strategies that centre human health and wellbeing, this guides design decisions and operational policies to instigate better human connection, optimise air quality, reduce indoor pollutants and even aid a better night’s sleep. It has been established that our workplaces have a significant impact upon our wellbeing and, in turn, our productivity and satisfaction. A business pursuing WELL is making a commitment to foster a culture of health and well-being for their space and their people.

How would one go about getting a project accredited?

Each of the ten concepts has a range of mandatory criteria, known as Preconditions, and additional features, known as Optimisations. These form the building blocks of the certification at the inception of a project. The achievement of these features provides a score leading to a project being certified to Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

Why did you become a WELL AP?

I’ve always had an interest in how our environments impact our personal wellbeing and how we are connected as people to our places, whether that is our homes or workplaces. The majority of people spend an average of 90% of their time indoors therefore it made sense to study how we can make our buildings better for people by becoming a WELL AP.

Can WELL help design and construct a workplace that is good for mental health?

One of the concepts of WELL is titled Mind, this specifically focuses on design and operational strategies around mental health which we can take into our everyday lives. Designs which promote a connection to nature through the inclusion of plants and natural materials have been proven to have a beneficial impact on our mental health. Access to outdoor green spaces can further benefit our connection to nature and reduce stress. Restorative spaces which are designed to benefit wellbeing can include softer lighting, natural sounds and calming colours and textures. There are also actions that we can take to create a workplace that encourages good mental health from education and awareness to promoting a good work/life balance and creating better social connections to combat loneliness.

The overall role of the WELL Building Standard is for buildings and organisations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being. By creating places that focus on wellbeing, we can create workplaces that have a positive impact upon people’s physical and mental health.

 

If you’d like to talk to Jozefa about how to get your project certified, get in touch 

For more information about the WELL Building Standard visit the WELL certification page here


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