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Many of us spend as much time at work, as we do at home. So as one of Australia’s leading property groups, with over 800 commercial properties owned or under management, its our responsibility to the people who come to work in one of our buildings to make it a positive experience. It creates healthier, more productive workforces, and builds value for us.
‘Wellbeing’ is a broad term covering all kinds of positive conditions, from physical and mental health, to community inclusion, integration, connection and belonging.
For the past five years we’ve bee on a ‘wellbeing journey’. Together with the global expert in the field, the International WELL Building Institute, we’ve been exploring how we can implement their benchmark certification in our properties and improve the wellbeing of our tenants.
A revolution built on doing right by people.
Our environment has a massive impact on our health, whether it’s the spaces we’re in, or the people around us. While sustainability has long been associated with the impact of people on the environment, it can go the other way too.
As Charter Hall’s Chief Experience Officer, Natalie Devlin, puts it:
“The effects of an environment on people has huge implications. Not just for individual wellbeing, but for the culture of an organisation. It can also have a tangible impact on the bottom line. Today’s successful businesses put sustainability and wellness at the heart of their values.”
This increased focus on the impacts of buildings on people is why WELL accreditation has become so important to the construction industry.
Not just following standards, but setting them.
Senior Director of WELL’s Australia and New Zealand Market Solutions, Jack Noonan is excited to see innovators like Charter Hall not only applying for accreditation, but also getting involved in the development of the standards.
The original certification standards were first developed and launched in the USA in 2014 and the WELL Institute now has almost 1,000 registered projects across 235 countries.
“In context that accounts for about 16 million square metres of floor space. In just two years, Australia has become the third largest market for WELL certification, behind the US and China,” he says.
To become certified, over 100 healthy space attributes, or ‘features’, need to be addressed. These were developed through extensive scientific and medical research and fall under the categories of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, mind and innovation.
“We spend 90 percent of our time indoors. With an average life expectancy of 79 years, that’s 70 years spent in built spaces” Jack says. “50% of Australians have a chronic disease, but only 1% of health spending is dedicated to chronic diseases. The biggest determinant of our health is not access to medical care or genetics, but our physical and social environment.”
What better way to demonstrate commitment to your beliefs than to act on them. At Charter Hall, we adopted WELL standards in our Melbourne and Perth offices and are working toward accreditation for Brisbane and Sydney.
“Previously, we had relatively low levels of engagement and high turnover. People were working long hours and burning out,” says Natalie. “In our new design, we built a lot around being able to be your best self – having the flexibility to meet all of your work commitments, along with the interests you have as a human being, while having access to nourishing food and dynamic workspace options”.
Successfully achieving accreditation in our own offices gave us the perspective and tools we needed to offer all our customers the chance to embrace WELL standards for their people.
One innovation that helps make it easier is the inclusion of smart technology as standard into building design, allowing tenants the possibility to control climate, sound and air quality, all through a simple mobile phone app.
WELLV2 – an easier way to focus on wellbeing
While extraordinarily beneficial, it’s tough meeting WELL standards, especially when trying to apply them to existing properties, or if a business has yet to demonstrate an understanding of wellbeing principles.
To help increase adoption of the standards, and streamline them for applicants with larger portfolios who have already demonstrated commitment and understanding to wellbeing, the International WELL Building Institute is working on the WELLV2 pilot program.
WELLV2 will allow portfolio-based companies like us to apply WELL standards across multiple properties and applications under their ownership and management.
As Jack kindly puts it:
“It’s been very clear to me that Charter Hall have been a strong advocate for the healthy buildings movement here in Australia. They have regularly contributed to the development of WELL in this market and in making sure that WELL certification is applicable to the Australian market.”
Managing such a large and diverse portfolio, from office buildings, to large scale retail and industrial assets, on behalf of a multi-tiered investor base, demands an innovative approach to ensure long term sustainable growth.
Natalie sees the adoption of WELL Standards as a key component of our growth and prosperity.
“Organisations are the new form of community, and buildings therefore are a conglomeration of communities,” she says. “A lot of what we do around those spaces is about social cohesion and connection.”
For Charter Hall, WELL accreditation is a perfect fit. It helps us effectively and comprehensively manage our dedication to health and wellness across our buildings, communities and people.
And by helping us work towards becoming market leaders in this exciting space, cement our reputation for not just having wellbeing aspirations, but bringing them to life