Businesses Verify If Offices Meet Health Standards
AUSTRALIA – Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, office tenants are placing greater importance in ensuring that their premises are complying with factual health standards, according to a report published by JLL on Monday (12 October).
In recent years, companies have started giving more focus on fostering the health and wellbeing of their employees in a bid to lure talented personnel, but this has become the top concern for corporates due to the virus outbreak.
“The pandemic has been a game-changer in terms of attitudes towards building wellness, health and hygiene, and as a result we are likely to see certifications across national and international programs grow exponentially,” said David Barnett, Research Manager at JLL.
After the United States rolled out the WELL Building Standard and Fitwel around 6 years ago, authorities in India, Australia, and Singapore followed suit with similar certifications.
Having such accreditations means that a commercial property like an office tower complies with science-backed health standards. Parameters include access to daylight, quality of circulating air, facilities that enable staff to exercise or move as well as those that promote mental health.
In the last 3 years, new certifications that have been introduced include Singapore’s BCA-HPB Green Mark for Healthier Workplaces. BCA-HPB stands for a tie-up between the city-state’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and its Health Promotion Board (HPB).
Over at India, there’s the Health and Wellbeing rating from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), while the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) launched IAQ rating to certify indoor air quality.
“Given the severity of the pandemic, certifications will become a business imperative as employees assert their right to being well while they work,” noted Barnett.
Moreover, JLL revealed that the WELL Building standard from the US is deemed as the global benchmark for gauging and verifying wellness features, such as construction materials, and amenities for tenants, as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).
The demand for the aforementioned accreditation is growing, with the number of developments receiving the WELL Building certification rising by 78 percent year-on-year to 82 projects in 2018, while the amount of certified space surged 203 percent on a sq ft basis. This is according to the 2019 annual report of the International WELL Building Institute.
Wellness facilities coveted by tenants & staff
Office space fitted with health and wellness amenities have become more sought-after by occupants and their employees, as research conducted by Future Workplace and View in 2019 showed that unhealthy physical and environmental factors reduce productivity by 1 hr per day.
Consequently, office lessors are incorporating health amenities into their commercial properties. In 2019, Charter Hall turned 1,000 sqm of offices in one of its Sydney office buildings into a wellness area with free yoga classes, as well as an auditorium, café and arts studio.
“Employees are coming into the office with new requirements and expectations,” noted JLL’s Research Head for Australia Andrew Ballantyne. “We’re seeing organizations respond with highly visible sanitation, contactless technology and access to fresh air to promote long-term feelings of safety.”
Furthermore, the International WELL Building Institute is doubling down on the trend with its new WELL Portfolio accreditation. Lendlease has emerged as the first property owner recipient with accreditation across 14 of its properties in Australia.
“The groundswell of healthy building certifications points to a market that is changing irrevocably to put peoples’ physical and mental health at the heart of places. Like green buildings, health credentials will become mainstream and the only way for a building to remain relevant,” Barnett added.