The recent announcement of the collaboration between property consultancy Knight Frank, and Delos, the real estate wellness technology firm, has been one of the most encouraging developments this month. They have joined forces to focus on improving the “human experience” of the buildings they create together. As Delos founder and CEO, Paul Scialla put it at the gathering, they will be “promoting healthy buildings and shaping real estate strategies of tomorrow.”
As a designer, I have always strived to make the ‘human’ element of environment a top priority. But real estate firms merging with fitness consultants and setting down standards to adhere tells me that the Indian market is ready to formally invest in wellness. I look forward to more workspaces in India aspiring for Delos’ widely regarded WELL standard for constructing spaces that promote fitness and well-being.
This is a holistic rating system developed for fitness and wellness levels of occupants of buildings by the International WELL Building Institute, launched by Delos themselves. It’s widely gaining recognition as a standard that builds on the tenets of the current LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. While LEED looks into air quality and energy efficiency of buildings, WELL is more human-centric in its approach. The WELL regulations cover everything from air quality, water, lighting and nourishment to fitness, comfort and how the environment impacts the mind.
The WELL standard is an intelligent and practical system too. Like LEED, it begins with air quality. At the announcement event, Paul drew our attention to the air quality of the venue, demonstrating a key point emphasised frequently by the WELL Institute – that humans are historically designed for outdoor environments. But over the last few centuries, our indoor lifestyles have made it difficult to leverage our ancient routines that followed the cycle of the sun. This is why there is a need to recreate this ecosystem within our workspaces, where we spend a large part of our lives. The standard further builds on other aspects of indoor environments as well. For instance, their policies for ‘fitness’ aren’t simply limited to including a gym within the building, but incorporating a design that promotes physical activity and discourages sedentary routines. Another aspect that I thought was worth noting was how their best practices for human comfort go beyond ergonomics to focus on the acoustics for quieter, more relaxed environments.
From a recent benchmark study that we at JTCPL Designs had conducted for workspaces, we found that respondents did rate natural sunlight, greenery and high indoor air quality as major priorities when picking locations for workspaces. They were, however, still hesitant towards investing in overall wellness systems. But the foray of the health and wellness industry into the real estate space and its rapid growth further strengthens my belief that team leaders are quickly opening up to its importance and Scialla’s vision for ‘healthy’ buildings.
After all, spaces that nourish the mind and body both, lead to happier teams. And it’s no secret that happy members with a higher morale are the greatest assets to any team or enterprise.