The International WELL Building Institute™ marked a new milestone in the expansion of its WELL Certification program as the first project in New York achieved WELL Certification under v1 of the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™). The distinction was awarded to Structure Tone’s recently opened New York City headquarters at 330 West 34th Street in Manhattan, which achieved WELL Certification at the Silver level. WELL is the first building standard to focus exclusively on enhancing people’s health and wellness through the built environment.
Designed by Gensler and developed with the health and wellness of Structure Tone’s employees at its center, the new 82,000-square-foot office space incorporates innovative wellness features and designs throughout the office to make the space more collaborative, and to provide the best opportunities for employees to interact with the built environment in ways that will positively impact their overall happiness and wellness.
“Having Structure Tone achieve the first WELL Certification in New York for its headquarters is indicative of its global leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, Chairman and CEO of IWBI. “This is a company that at its core deeply understands the connection between the health of people and the importance of designing and constructing spaces that enhance health and wellness. We congratulate them on this significant achievement.”
Created through seven years of rigorous research and development working with leading physicians, scientists, and industry professionals, WELL is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based research. Structure Tone earned the distinction based on seven categories of building performance: air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind.
“Targeting WELL certification for our new office was important to us not only for our employees’ health and wellness, but also to ensure as construction managers that we understand what it takes to build these kinds of spaces,” says James Donaghy, chairman of the board at Structure Tone. “We have already seen our clients incorporating wellness into their built environments and firmly believe WELL will play a strong role in the workplaces of the future.”
Project features that helped Structure Tone achieve its WELL Certified™ Silver rating include:
- WELL Café: Providing healthy nutritional choices is imperative. The office café provides on-site, healthy food and beverage choices, including fresh fruits and vegetables that will help fuel employees with high nutritional value foods, rather than foods that are detrimental to their health. An automated system allows employees to customize their own health profile so that they can see what choices they are making, while providing opportunities to make better choices. All beverage choices at the café contain under 25g of sugar and all food selections prioritize whole grains. Nearby nutritional signage is also featured to educate employees on the benefits of healthy eating, as well as the hazards of poor nutritional choices.
- Fitness: Staying active is key to maintaining one’s health and wellness. To encourage physical activity, the new office offers employees subsidized membership to CitiBike, the New York city-wide bike share program, so that employees can commute to/from work and/or meetings via bicycle. Employees also receive discounted membership to the nearby Planet Fitness gym. Additionally, the office has built interior fitness opportunities into the new office space, which allows for movement over the course of the regular business day through a central staircase feature and a central printing station.
- Sit/Stand Desks: Every employee has a sit/stand desk, encouraging staff to move throughout the day and to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Studies have shown that sitting for periods of greater than six hours per day has a negative impact on our health.
- Materials (VOCs): During construction, care was taken to select paints, sealants, adhesives, flooring, insulation, furniture and other materials that contain no or low volatile organic compounds. These choices contribute to overall improved indoor air quality in the office space. Air quality was checked through scientific testing during performance verification to ensure that the office meets the low-emitting requirements set by WELL.
- HVAC Systems: High quality HVAC systems were added to capture particulates and to keep the system clean prior to employee occupancy. As part of the system design, ventilation was also improved so that more fresh air can enter the office space on demand, as needed.
- Lighting: Lighting levels, fixtures and windows were optimized to match the human body’s circadian rhythms, and to help employees be more productive and alert during the day and to achieve better sleep patterns at night. Additionally, lighting locations, glare control and illumination levels were designed to provide employees with the highest level of functionality for the tasks required at their work zones.
- Water quality: New York City has access to some of the best quality water in the world; however, point of source water filters were still installed at all points of water distribution in the office to ensure that sediment, metals, organic pollutants, herbicides/pesticides, disinfectants, fluoride and other contaminants and additives are screened before water is consumed.
- Acoustic Comfort: Productivity and concentration can drop by as much as 15% in noisy spaces. In order to keep disruptions in the open office area minimized, acoustical consultants were brought in to ensure that the space was designed within WELL’s noise criteria.
WELL is grounded in a body of scientific research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants. To be awarded WELL Certification by IWBI, Structure Tone’s New York City headquarters underwent rigorous testing and a final evaluation carried out by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which is the third-party certification body for WELL, to ensure it met all WELL Certified Silver performance requirements. To date, WELL has enrolled more than 350 building projects in 28 countries.