Excited to announce that our firm recently became the first architecture office on the West Coast to receive WELL Gold Certification!
When we began designing our new creative workspace at the corner of 3rd and Long Beach Blvd., we knew we’d pursue LEED Platinum certification, but also knew we wanted to take it a step further. We asked ourselves how we could improve the physical and physiological attributes of our most valuable asset, our people. At that time we made the conscious decision to move forward with WELL Building Standard.
WELL Building Standard
WELL Building Standard® is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. WELL certification is similar to LEED in that it is a combination of policies, prescriptive measures, and performance metrics, while there are synergies with LEED (approximately 15%).
LEED largely focuses on quantity while WELL hones in on quality. This new standard is a holistic, scientifically based certification that promotes maximizing comfort, productivity and most importantly, health for building occupants. The performance based metrics and people driven policies clearly reflect the values placed on employees.
Throughout the process we’ve studied the quality of our air, water, acoustics, comfort, and light as a means of ensuring optimal spatial quality. We’ve expanded our Health and Wellness Program to include yoga, meditation, cross training, a running group, strength training, biking and team sports, and staff receives healthy, low sugar food options daily. Workstations are adjustable to suit the needs of each individual. We’ve embraced a beautiful new product, Fluidstance to promote standing, proper posture and eliminate chronic back pain. Daylight is one of the most impactful attributes to employee satisfaction and productivity. Our space is unique in that our building is almost entirely surrounded by retail and our layout is deep, limiting the amount of opportunity for daylight fenestration. Despite our given conditions, the studio is consistently flooded with natural light through 20 large skylights hovering 25’ above the 24,000+ sf footprint.
Acoustics are typically the top culprit of distraction in an office space. We’ve had a few lessons learned with our extended construction timeline, but we’ve finally crossed the finish line with new acoustical panels, sound masking and additional roof insulation which has resulted in significantly higher staff satisfaction. From a community perspective, our staff gets out, a lot! Long Beach boasts a Walkscore of 97, and now that the studio offers employees annual Long Beach Bike Share memberships, our staff now has access to explore even more of what Long Beach has to offer, with 150 minutes of ride time per day, per person.
WELL Building Standard is taking design to a whole new level, one that goes beyond function and aesthetics, and forces us to look deep into the quality of the space we at other times might overlook. This process forces us to quantify the qualitative benefits defined by our space, inevitably contributing to productivity, talent retention and brand recognition. Smart companies care about their employees, they care about productivity, and they care about the business case.
Today’s competitive marketplace understands that these three components are tightly bound and driven by talent recruitment and retention. Our quest was to test out the WELL Standard for ourselves, and now that we’ve completed the bulk of the work, we’re seeing results. It’s clear that these initiatives make business sense, because it makes people sense.