With a history of almost four years, the WELL Building Standard certification has started to shift the attention from the built environment to the health of employees. In Romania, this phenomenon is in its inception and Colliers International is the first real estate consultancy company to have its own team of WELL professionals, with two of the five being present on a national level.
The WELL Building Standard is the first system that ensures a healthy interaction of the employee with the space where they work; it was launched in the US by the International WELL Building Institute in 2014, and it was designed to complement the LEED or BREEAM New Construction certification systems, which are geared towards the technical specifications of a building.
In contrast, compliance with the WELL standard requires that health and well-being conditions for occupants are met, as well as a regular re-evaluation, once every three years, to ensure that the project maintains the same high level of design, maintenance and operations over time.
“The Colliers green certifications team is one of the first to apply the best practices in the field on the Romanian market, acquiring in 7 years of activity 1.5 mn LEED/BREEAM certified and in process of certification sqm GBA in 45 projects. Gradually, the market has matured, as demonstrated by developers’ interest in the human factor present in their buildings. In line with the new stage in the evolution of real estate projects, the team has expanded its expertise to the well-being area, as two of our specialists obtained the WELL AP (WELL Accredited Professional) credential”, Oana Stamatin, director of Green Certifications and Building Surveying at Colliers International Romania said.
Approximately 90% of a person’s time is spent indoors, an environment with a strong influence on their way of life. WELL certified spaces are designed to improve nutrition, physical activity, mood, sleep patterns, productivity and performance of people working, living or shopping inside of them. Also, the quality and accessibility of air, water and natural or artificial light should be optimized and space should be comfortable and support cognitive and emotional health through design and technology.
“There is a growing demand for people to have a positive and balanced experience inside the buildings they occupy; basically, a sustainable building must provide a sustainable lifestyle. Obtaining the WELL certification adds value to any real estate project by bringing closer and understanding the human component that is, essentially, its end-user. Thus, the benefits of WELL are reflected at employee level – productivity and job satisfaction – and at company level – attracting and retaining talent, clients and investors”, Oana Stamatin added.
Considering the very good synergy WELL has with the main sustainability certification standards used in Romania (LEED and BREEAM), the Colliers specialists expect, first off, an increased interest from buildings in the project phase or in early construction, which are already targeting the LEED or BREEAM certification.
The demand will gradually grow as the first WELL certified buildings will be completed, and the tenants and their employees will become aware of all the benefits they receive from working in such buildings. At the same time, the demand will increase due to some tenants’ global policies to operate in WELL certified buildings, but also due to increased market competitiveness and the developers’ desire to meet the highest standards of sustainability, health and productivity.
“Colliers meets the demands of developers and tenants through the WELL consulting service. First, the client is advised through an WELL feasibility assessment; the process continues with reviewing the design documentation, trainings for the project team (designers, contractors, project managers) and implementing WELL requirements in design and construction. Upon completion of the construction, Colliers sends the documentation to the certification institute, provides assistance during the WELL Assessor’s audit mission sent by the institute and supports the developer to clarify all aspects and obtain the WELL certificate”, Oana Stamatin concluded.