Have you ever thought about your favorite space and why it makes you feel good? Whether it’s your office, home, local library, or favorite coffee shop, certain environments can make us feel a certain way. Now, ask yourself: How does this environment make you feel? Why do you love spending your time there? Does this place promote a healthy and productive lifestyle? If the answer is yes, it might be because the designed space meets the WELL Building Standard.
If you described these spaces to enhance your health and well-being, it may qualify as a WELL Building Standard.
The WELL Building Standard is a design approach focusing on creating spaces to have a positive impact on our health and well-being. The goal is to promote comfort and happiness for the occupants who use the space daily. Key concepts of the WELL Building Standard include Air Quality & Materials, Light, Movement, Sound, Community & Mind.
Air & Materials
Air & Materials focuses on optimizing and improving air quality in an environment. This can be achieved with accessible windows, ceiling fans, or individual cooling and heating control. Additionally, choosing the right materials is crucial to prevent off-gassing and mold growth. To prevent this, it is essential to choose antimicrobial carpets and flooring when designing a space. The importance of these decisions is exemplified in the design of Calhoun Hall at the University of Cincinnati, where air quality and student safety are paramount.
This is the most discussed realm with our clients – focusing on access to daylight. Access to daylight is essential in planning spaces such as offices, as it can affect mood and productivity. For a recent study and renovation, we introduced our clients to color-adjusting lighting. These lights are reliant on the temperature and time of day, so will dim and brighten the light accordingly to create a comfortable environment.
Movement & Comfort
Within the name, this is designing spaces that encourage movement. This doesn’t mean to focus on gyms and athletic facilities. Even something as simple as stairs can encourage movement, as well as ergonomically designed furniture. For example, think about a rolling chair –sway back and forth, spin in place, and tilt in your chair back and forth. Active furniture is anything that encourages change in posture. At the Health United Building at Xavier University, the whole building promotes movement! When evaluating the faculty offices, we introduced standing desks to inspire movement.
Sound is designing an environment where occupants can concentrate and prevent increased stress. One way to control noise is by introducing white noise, which can come from the ductwork and air conditioning systems. The white noise is consistent with background noise. Additionally, absorbing sound using fiberglass insulation and softer materials can also help reduce noise levels. At Empower Headquarters, there are administrative offices, flexible workspaces, and conference rooms. With many conversations, meetings, and commotion in these spaces, you must reduce noise levels.
Community & Mind
Community & Mind supports social connection and well-being. Upper Arlington Community Center is known as the “Wellness Oasis”. It will house a play area, an indoor water park, and the senior center. The design prioritizes accessibility and inclusivity, with the elevator entrance and stairs entrance arriving at the same location on each floor.
The WELL Building Standard promotes health and well-being for the users. Aside from the building creating opportunities, WELL gives an opportunity for clients to encourage best practices to increase in awareness for mental health, emotional health, and physical health. From providing a wellness room for breaks, providing fruit in the kitchens, or using spaces for socialization and connection with peers.