An easier route to healthy, sustainable buildings

Darren Evans of Darren Evans Assessments welcomes the harmonisation between BREEAM and the WELL Building Standard.

Following last year’s refreshing announcement that the WELL Building Standard would be aligned with global sustainability standard BREEAM, there is further good news with the BRE and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) publishing a briefing paper which will greatly simplify the process of obtaining both a Certified BREEAM and a WELL Certified rating.

It’s important the large organisations take employee health and wellbeing seriously. We spend a lot of time at work (90% of employees admit their work is affected by the quality of their environment) and so it’s important that we look at ways to improve this work/life balance. Creating sustainable buildings which make occupants feel better as well as happier and more productive should therefore be a given. It should become part of the culture of a business.

The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard to focus on just that — the health and wellness of the people in buildings. It centres on seven ‘Concepts’ — air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind — and demonstrates the connection between buildings and its impact on people’s health and wellness. Marrying WELL with BREEAM will certainly make it easier for project teams to link sustainability and well-being, and achieve best-practice.

The publication of the new briefing paper ‘Assessing health and wellbeing in buildings’ will be greatly welcomed by all. With approximately 35% of credits under BREEAM and WELL recognised by each organisation, the process of assessing under both schemes will be simplified and more efficient. Project teams won’t have to submit documentation twice. As another step in the right direction, the document also clarifies where WELL requirements are covered by UK and/or EU regulations and where these can be omitted from an assessment for buildings undergoing a WELL assessment in these territories.

The challenge is how do we adopt wellness in the same way that we have embraced sustainability? When you consider that we spend over 90% of our time indoors and in an office environment, we wholeheartedly believe that wellbeing should be a part of every building — whether it’s a home, a school, a hospital or an office.

The marriage between BREEAM and WELL will put a focus on the end-user and their well-being. After all, a sustainable building is not just about energy performance, aesthetics and the materials that are used to build it, it’s also about the people who use that building being in a healthy environment. It will help us feel better about ourselves, others, overcome problems and result in us being more productive. It will help us to be inspired and to inspire others. That is good for the business, shareholders and ultimately, dare I say, society.

Darren Evans is managing director of Darren Evans Assessments, experts in sustainability and energy efficiency.

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