Cundall's new London office at One Carter Lane was the first project in Europe to achieve the Well Building Standard in addition to a SKA Gold and BREEAM Excellent Ratings for sustainability. The Well Building Standard, administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), an American public benefit corporation, provides ways of measuring just over 100 features of the indoor-environment that affect both health and well-being. These come under the categories or "concepts" of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. "The most obvious point to note about the seven concepts is that they focus on people," says Cundall lighting director Andrew Bissell. "The concept of nourishment or fitness as part of the employee environment, for example, is not something you would see in, say, BREEAM or LEED."
In 2016, behavioural scientist Professor Paul Dolan of the London School of Economics developed a checklist for built environment design with wellbeing in mind; it carries the mnemonic SALIENT. This stands for sound, air, light, image, ergonomics and tint (meaning colour). By introducing elements that are related to well-being, the Well Building Standard arguably takes workplace design further, in the direction of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
In 1954, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote Motivation and Personality in which he described human needs as forming a pyramid with five layers, each of which needs broadly to be met before the one above can be attended to satisfactorily. The base of the pyramid includes physiological needs such as food and shelter, met in terms of workplace design by providing comfortable working conditions. Above these come safety needs, met in the work environment by good working conditions.
This is pretty well the limit of most building standards, guidelines and recommendations and roughly corresponds with the concepts of air, water, Iight and comfort, but the Well Building Standard attempts to address at least two more layers with its concept of mind. The social needs layer of Maslow's pyramid takes in group relationships, communication and informal activities. The top two layers encompass esteem, nourished by feedback, promotions and pay, and therefore relating mainly to the organization, and self-actualisation, which comes from responsibility, autonomy, challenges and achievement. Both sets of top level need may be met at least partly by the standard's focus on nourishment and fitness, both of which are linked to mental health.
As Derek Clements-Coombe points out in Creating the Productive Workplace, "there are subtleties here such as recognising the need to pay attention to circadian lighting and not just using functional systems assessed by lighting levels only, and the need to support mental and emotional health.However good the built environment is, it still requires people to have some responsibility too by eating, drinking and exercising healthily and not smoking."
The American Society of Interior Designers' headquarters in Washington provides an example of how this is put into practice. The 780sq m/8500sq ft office is the first anywhere to achieve both Well- and LEED-certification at the Platinum level, and acts as a living laboratory for the design community. "We began this project with a clear goal of show casing the many ways design can positively affect the health and well-being of employees while boosting resource efficiency. At ASID, we believe in research-based results in design and placed an emphasis on third-party validation of the space," says ASID chief executive Randy W Fiser.
The design by US architect Perkins+Will includes a circadian lighting system, sound masking systems, rigorous water quality standards and employs biophilic design strategies based on the idea that we are all drawn to nature and likely to be happier presented with, say, a view of greenery or office plants. These are coupled with policies and procedures that emphasise employee health and productivity such as providing fresh fruit and vegetables, sit/stand desks and a wellness room for mental breaks.