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The first WELL accredited building for the ACT is currently under construction, as health and well-being continues to remain at the forefront of workspace design and construction.

Amalgamated Property Group (APG) is currently building the ACT’s first office building to seek a WELL rating, specifically a WELL Silver Core & Shell rating for Civic Quarter in the Canberra CBD.

Internationally, the WELL Building Standard is being embraced as the leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings globally. Australia currently has the NABERS rating system which is widely used to grade energy, water and waste performance. These have been joined by a NABERS rating for the indoor environment (IE).

“Our work environment impacts on our productivity,” Colliers International Associate Director Office Leasing, Aaron Bruce said. “For example, going to work everyday in freezing office can make us miserable, not to mention potentially sick; employee absenteeism is estimated to cost the Australian economy over $30 billion a year.”

“How we feel, mentally and physically, has a direct correlation to whether we are able to give our best to our jobs. Having happy, healthy, comfortable and motivated employees is essential to an organisation’s overall productivity and this is driving creation of a new building rating system.

“While energy efficiency ratings have been around for some time in Canberra, in the near future we will become familiar with building ‘wellness’ ratings.”

“The kinds of factors the ratings look at can include a building or workspace’s light, comfort, air quality, even whether it encourages people to move rather than remaining sedentary all day,” Colliers International Director Office Leasing, Michael Ceacis explained. “The ACT is about to get its first WELL rated building with the construction of Civic Quarter.”

APG General Manager Phil O’Brien said, “Civic Quarter is to be an agile 21st century workplace designed to support flexible working and wellness programs.

“For so many people a significant amount of time is spent indoors. The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that may impact on the health and well-being of its occupants. There are seven concepts to WELL and we see our development as a platform for like-minded tenants who recognise the importance of creating a healthier environment for their staff.”

During design and construction of Civic Quarter, APG will focus on air quality standards and reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOC), ventilation effectiveness, water quality, lighting glare minimisation, colour quality and a host of other considerations. Post construction, the development will be independently audit and tested.

“Being able to demonstrate achievements in occupant health, comfort and well-being will become increasingly expected,” Mr Ceacis said.

For building owners, having a ‘wellness’ rating will make their building more competitive and attractive to the market. Around the globe these types of ratings are proving to be major drawcards for large multinationals.

“For employers, it will help them attract and keep staff as well as improve their bottom line through increased productivity.”

Mr O’Brien agrees, “Progressive companies will see the benefit of designing for health and well-being. Delivering a healthier working environment offers an important point of difference and offering a WELL rated building will, we believe, assist with their staff retention strategy.”