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How Healthy Is Your Office?

For decades, many developers and architects worked to ensure that their buildings were kind to the planet. Now, their focus is on the effect that buildings have on the people who work in them.


Studies show that healthy workers tend to be more productive, a concept that is behind a growing trend in real estate to create offices with measurable wellness benefits. One frequently cited Harvard study showed that improving air quality caused mental cognition to soar.


New certification programs have sprung up to guide the way, including the Well Building Standard, introduced by the development company Delos in 2014 and based on medical research that shows how our surroundings affect our health.

新的认证项目如雨后春笋般冒了出来,为这股趋势指路,其中包括Well建筑标准(Well Building Standard)。它由房地产及科技公司迪洛斯(Delos)于2014年推出。该系统以显示我们的周遭环境如何影响人体健康的医学研究为基础。

Delos’s new headquarters, on the fourth and fifth floors of a 10-story tower in Manhattan, were designed by the architecture firm Gensler. The 19,000-square-foot office space houses 70 employees and serves as a showplace for the Well standard.


In the reception area, where a tour of the office was about to begin on a recent afternoon, the air quality was good. There was proof: A digital display measuring about 6½ feet by 12 feet covering one wall showed the indoor temperature, the humidity level, and other measurements of cleanliness and comfort with data supplied by sensors throughout the office.


“We have 51 sensors, which is extreme overkill,” said Janna Wandzilak, a Delos director, who was leading our tour.

“我们装了51个感应器,非常多,”带领我们参观的迪洛斯主管詹娜·旺兹拉克(Janna Wandzilak)说。

Triple-filtered air whooshes in from floor vents, while ceiling ducts suck out carbon dioxide-filled air. Plants cascading from walls and partitions also help clean the air while satisfying our innate need to connect to nature, a concept known as biophilia.


Standing desks are everywhere, and a wide oak staircase stretches between the lower and upper floors, encouraging staff to walk up and down rather than take the elevator — all contributing to fitness.


“I definitely find myself sitting less,” Paul Scialla, Delos’s chief executive, said in an interview in his office, which was decorated with framed photos. One showed him with the wellness guru Deepak Chopra, a member of the Delos advisory board.

“我发现自己确实坐的时候变少了,”迪洛斯的首席执行官保罗·夏拉(Paul Scialla)在自己的办公室接受采访时说,这里到处都是用相框镶嵌起来的照片。其中一张是他与健康专家狄巴克·乔布拉(Deepak Chopra)的合影,后者也是迪洛斯咨询委员会的成员。

After 18 years trading bonds on Wall Street, Mr. Scialla founded the company in 2014, having identified an untapped market at the intersection of real estate and the booming wellness movement.


The Well system has criteria in seven categories that promote the health of a building’s occupants, including nourishment — which explains the almond butter, the whole-grain bread and the organic apples in the Delos cafe. The other categories are air, comfort, fitness, light, mind and water.


A 282-page manual explains the standard, which is administered by the International Well Building Institute, a public benefit corporation spun off from Delos. The third-party certification is done by Green Business Certification — which also certifies Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, projects — and involves in-office auditing and laboratory analysis of water and air samples.

一个282页篇幅的册子解释了这些由国际WELL建筑研究院(International Well Building Institute)管理的标准,这家研究院是迪洛斯衍生出来的一家公益企业。第三方认证则由绿色事业认证(Green Business Certification)进行——该机构还对能源与环境先导设计(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,简称LEED)项目进行认证——包括对水和空气样本的上门审核及实验室分析。

According to Delos, 954 projects in 35 countries are registered for Well, certified or precertified; 327 of them are in the United States, including 24 in New York. The vast majority of projects are offices. Not surprisingly, the Delos headquarters achieved the most demanding level of certification, platinum.


The workplaces are designed to coax people to change their behavior. Stairs are placed front and center, for instance, to encourage their use.


But occupants benefit simply from being in an office that has been designed to optimize their health. For instance, the circadian lighting that changes throughout the day, keeping pace with the brightening and dimming of sunlight, has been shown to improve sleeping at night.


“If we can engineer the box we spend 90 percent of our lives in to deliver health care automatically, that’s a very big impact,” Mr. Scialla said.


Other standards have been created for health and wellness. Fitwel, for instance, offers a certification program with similar goals but a different origin and methods.


Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fitwel is based primarily on public health data and promotes strategies shown to have the greatest effect on health.

由疾病控制和预防中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)开发的Fitwel主要基于公共卫生数据,并推广已经对健康显示出最大影响的战略。

After testing the system on workplaces of the General Services Administration, the C.D.C. contracted with the Center for Active Design, a nonprofit organization in New York, to administer the program and apply it more broadly.

在对总务管理局(General Services Administration)办公室的系统进行测试后,疾病控制和预防中心与纽约的一个非营利组织积极设计中心(Center for Active Design)签订了合同,以管理并更广泛地应用该项目。

Started last year, Fitwel is essentially a do-it-yourself web-based checklist and scoring system. A building owner or manager enters information about a facility and submits photographic evidence.


“It was designed to be so simple that you can walk around a building with a tablet and check on a checklist and take photos with the tablet and upload them,” said Liz York, the C.D.C.’s chief sustainability officer. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

“它的设计非常简单,你可以带着平板电脑在一座建筑里走动,查看清单,用平板电脑拍照并上传,”疾病控制和预防中心首席可持续发展官利兹·约克(Liz York)说。

Reviewers process the information and give the user a score as well as a to-do list to improve office conditions.


Some companies, such as the commercial real estate firm Tishman Speyer, which has a seat on Fitwel’s advisory board, are applying the program across their portfolio of buildings.

包括商业房地产公司铁狮门(Tishman Speyer)在内的一些公司是Fitwel的顾问委员会成员,这些公司正在它们进行的开发项目中应用它。

“You can use Fitwel in an individual building, but we want to support massive users,” said Joanna Frank, president and chief executive of the Center for Active Design. “We’re looking at large-scale market transformation.”

“你可以在一栋单独的建筑中使用Fitwel,但是我们希望支持大量用户,”积极设计中心(Center for Active Design)总裁兼首席执行官乔安娜·弗兰克(Joanna Frank)说。“我们正在考虑大规模市场转型。”

Certification for Fitwel costs far less than that for Well.


The Well program costs $1,800 to $4,200 to register, depending on square footage, and $7,500 to $131,250 to certify. This does not account for the financial outlay to apply the health-promoting features required to achieve certification.


Furthermore, recertification every three years is recommended, to ensure that offices continue to be healthy places.


Fitwel charges $500 to register and $6,000 to certify. And the financial outlay required to meet some recommendations can be quite modest. One recommendation might be to put up signs directing employees to the stairs to encourage their use; another might be to set aside a lactation room or a station for nursing mothers.


Even after attaining Fitwel certification, building managers can work to increase scores — and enhance interiors — by making additional investments as their budgets allow.


The expected improvements in employee wellness from either program can result in productivity gains, including lower health care costs, lower rates of absenteeism and increased revenue from better employee performance.


The American Society of Interior Designers said it had achieved a 16 percent productivity gain after moving into its Well-certified headquarters in Washington two years ago. The organization, which spent about $2 million outfitting the space, tracked the impact of the design and found increased engagement and reduced absenteeism, Randy W. Fiser, the chief executive, said.

美国室内设计师协会(The American Society of Interior Designers)称,两年前搬进得到了Well认证的华盛顿总部后,该协会的生产率提高了16%。首席执行官兰迪·费瑟(Randy W. Fiser)说,该组织耗资约200万美元为办公空间配备设备,跟踪该设计的影响,并发现员工参与度有所提高,缺勤率有所降低。

Mr. Fiser, who is also a member of the Delos advisory board, said the organization added nearly $700,000 to its bottom line in its first year from the productivity increase as well as savings from energy costs.


However, the desire to attract staff seems to be driving many companies to turn to programs that help them develop healthy offices, according to architects and designers who work with clients on such projects.


“In today’s economy, people can change jobs,” said Paula McEvoy, an architect and co-director of sustainable design for Perkins & Will, which last year completed two Well-certified projects and five Fitwel certifications. “They can choose their workplace.”

“在今天的经济里,人们可以换工作,”珀金斯威尔建筑设计事务所(Perkins & Will)建筑师兼可持续设计联席总监宝拉·麦克沃伊(Paula McEvoy)说,该公司去年完成了两个Well认证的项目和五个Fitwel认证。“他们可以选择工作的场所。"

With the two certification systems doing essentially the same thing, some designers say there can be confusion over the programs.


But Ms. Frank of the Center for Active Design brushes that off.


“We believe there’s room in the marketplace for both certifications,” she said, adding that the existence of two programs might strengthen the healthy-office message.


“The more people talking about promoting health in the workplace, the better,” she said.




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