One organization that jumped at the new health certification was the property management company Castellum, which has about 6,200 customers in office buildings from Sundsvall in the north to Copenhagen in the south. "We had already environmentally certified our facilities 10 years ago and had gained a lot of knowledge in that field," says Filip Elland, sustainability manager at Castellum. "After building the best environmental-class office in Stockholm, we discovered that there was still something missing. "The building itself was lovely, but the values controlled by the environmental certification only covered the 'hard' elements, things like choice of materials and the right windows. The actual experience of the building, which is really the strongest factor for healthy offices, isn't included in the certification."
That was when they got in contact with WELL. The WELL perspective looks at other values in the facilities – not just the design and operation of the buildings themselves, but how they affect human behavior related to health and well-being. Things like airflow, indoor greenery, opportunities for exercise and ergonomics in the workplace is important.
Castellum liked the idea of this certification – largely because the data indicated that the certification was necessary, Elland says.
“We spend 90% of our time indoors, and about 60% of our health and well-being is affected by our physical and social environment. In Sweden, we have problems with stress-related illnesses and long-term sick leave. Our business community is obviously doing something wrong, so we need to consider the causes.”
Castellum sees a demand from their clients for a sustainable building with a health perspective on the workplace. So in 2016 they decided to invest in one of the first health-certified buildings in the Nordic region. The ground breaking took place in the summer of 2017 in the Hyllie district of Malmö, and the healthy workplace will be completed in the spring of 2019.
“It was also important from a competitive perspective,” Elland says. “All the other property owners want top-level environmental certification. And so do we, but what then distinguishes our building from the neighbor’s? So we put all the pieces together and thought: This! We decided to go for this tool, and we’ve seen huge interest from the business community. We’ve already filled over 70% of the space, because we had something that made us stand out from the crowd – customers chose us instead of our neighbors.”
In Castellum’s case, they created different types of working environment options without forgetting about the ergonomics in the workplace. For example they created working spots outdoors on the roof, where employees can plug in their computers. The ground-floor cafeteria serves only healthy food, and the building also features urban farming on the roof. There will be exercise options on the roof, in the courtyard and indoors. On the ground floor, clients will be able to work in a landscape with other businesses – the idea is that some work-spaces will be open to people who are not on staff. Elevators will be “hidden” to encourage the use of the stairs. The organization is also assessing the option of time-controlled lighting, with different colors of light at different times of the day. And much more - there’s a lot to do.