Health Is Wealth
The business case for wellness protocols in the built environment.
By: Carissa Nelson and Nina Olivier
We all know the research, the built environment plays a crucial role in our health and well-being, but is there a business case that supports the investment of a focus on occupant health through Wellness protocols like WELL & Fitwel?
Yes! The growing research is building a strong case that investing in wellness is not only good for building occupants, but also good for investors.
The impact buildings have on human health and well-being has never been more evident or more important. Thanks to an evolving evidence base, we have a deeper understanding about the relationship between the physical environment and human health than ever before. We now have the insight to create spaces that enhance – rather than hinder the health of our minds and bodies. We can design environments that fuel our bodies, move us, keep us connected, inspire our best work, and facilitate a good night’s sleep.
Organizations everywhere are beginning to use health and wellness certification systems to prioritize the health and safety of their people, maximize real estate value, and optimize human and social capital performance. Demand for certification systems such as Fitwel and WELL has experienced significant growth in recent years. As a result, more data is now available to show the correlation between effectiveness of healthy building strategies and positive impacts to occupant satisfaction.
Research shows a myriad of benefits resulting from wellness protocol certification:
- Certified healthy buildings saw a 4.4% to 7.7% increase in rents compared to nearby non-certified buildings.1
- Spaces with health-focused attributes yield longer lease terms; more than a year longer (88.3 months compared to 75.3 months) than spaces without them. 1
- WELL Certified buildings report improvements in overall occupant satisfaction by nearly 30%, occupant perceived well-being scores by 26%, reported mental health by 10%, and productivity scores by 10 median points. 1
- Overall, sustainability and indoor environment characteristics in real estate enhance and complement an asset’s market value.1
Specific Healthy building strategies are shown to enhance rent premiums and increase property value. Biophilic design is shown to increase office rent premiums by 5.6-7.8%. Daylighting can increase rent premiums by 5-6%. Ergonomics, while not directly impacting rent premiums, result in fewer medical claims and employee sick days – leading to operational savings. Walkability can increase property values by up to 9%. 1
In addition to increasing property value and desirability of a property, the research shows that Healthy Building strategies:
- Support a healthy economy
- Improve productivity
- Mitigate absenteeism
- Reduce medical and healthcare costs
In a report published by QuadReal, researchers found a correlation of higher wellness protocol scores to a greater willingness of occupants to recommend the building to their friends and colleagues. The study also found that regular maintenance and operational strategies have a greater impact on occupant satisfaction than the building’s included amenities. For example, the regular monitoring of MERV 13 filters, enhanced cleaning strategies, and communication protocols have increased building occupant satisfaction. Properties with robust tenant engagement programs such as hybrid yoga classes and bee keeping workshops have also led to positive building occupant survey results.2
The research is clearer than ever, for the building industry, health is wealth and worth investing in. Rushing provides consulting services for various projects looking to achieve certification in Fitwel, WELL, and the Living Building Challenge.
Citation “Investing in Health Pays Back”. IWBI Research Review. https://www.wellcertified.com/health-pays-back/
 “Health Drives Value in Real Estate”. Center for Active Design. QuadReal. 2022.