GRESB is all about buildings. Wellness is all about people. What’s the common thread?

The last several years have seen an increase in wellness programs as a way to mitigate ever increasing insurance premiums.  Nowadays employers are holding themselves accountable for the health of their employees.

Increasingly we see building designers, owners, operators, and occupiers showing interest in how their building affects their well being. And the evidence says, the impact is huge.

To address wellness in its organization, CBRE Group, Inc. selected its new global corporate headquarters in Los Angeles to become the world’s first WELL certified pilot office in 2013.The new space was designed to “improve productivity, sharpen focus, increase creativity, speed and accuracy, and reduce absenteeism.”

A post occupant survey for the WELL certification pilot indicated that 83 percent of employees felt more productive in the new space, and 74 percent reported it had a positive impact on their business performance. As more projects register and data is collected, the evidence will be tangible to demonstrate the business value of health and wellness as an embedded building feature.

GRESB has taken notice and added a new Health and Well-Being module this year, designed to measure whether companies are measuring and managing risk and opportunities related to promoting health of their employees, and promoting health through their products and services. As with any new component of a verification system, there is a certain amount of mystery surrounding the criteria and the role that real estate portfolios play within the system.  As this new betterment area gains momentum, well-being criteria in your organization and across your real estate assets will become vital to betterment against your peers within GRESB.

GRESB’s health and well-being module can be made more accessible to users by simply understanding that today’s sustainable design professional is already incorporating many of the air, water and lighting components of newly defined compliance and verification systems.   GRESB’s module is broken down into 10 categories of questions that focus on these main themes:

  1. Employee wellness programs
  2. Employee access to wellness services and products
  3. Operational policy that support well-being
  4. Active measurement of employee and operational activities

While participation in this module is optional for the 2016 reporting cycle (this year), you should expect it to be compulsory next year. This is the perfect time to put on your wellness training wheels.

We have four tips to help any company incorporate wellness into GRESB reporting:

  1. Give it a try!

It’s better to get some practice and feedback before your answers will contribute to your score. By reporting on wellness this year, you’ll be ready to knock it out of the park next year.  And you might be doing better than you realize: Does your organization have wellness programs, or operational policies such as green cleaning?  Do your real estate assets have on-site amenities such as a gym or healthy food store?  If you said yes to these basic questions, chances are you are on your way to meaningful participation in the health and well-being module!  Furthermore, if your real estate assets have been certified using a third-party verification system like LEED, you have bettered your scoring already.

  1. Engage the People People

Several of the questions in this module will require involvement from your Human Resources department. Engage them early and find an advocate who can help you this year and next.

  1. Go after quick wins

While you can’t implement new policies or conduct new audits for the 2016 report, you can identify the areas to improve for next year. 2018’s reporting cycle covers 2017, which is now! Find areas that are simple and/or provide big value, and take action!

  1. Ask for help.

GRESB has a Help Section, and their staff is notorious for being friendly, fast, and responsive. Of course there are a few consultants like us who can help you out if you need more help than an info@ email can provide.

As experts in compliance and verification of buildings, we can analyze building portfolios for wellness criteria using an established sustainability lens.  The connections of sustainability and the very foundation of sustainability is about people.  What we integrate into built environments aligns with many specialties of wellness in design, and an individual’s improved well-being.   Wellness comes from many sources, certainly including natural light, connections to nature, active environments with irresistible stairwells, standing workstations, and gyms and classes on site!

At Paladino, we eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff all day every day. Are you reporting to the Health and Well-Being module this year? We’d love to hear how it goes in the comments!

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