Today, public health is on everyone’s mind. Recent surveys suggest that the public is very concerned with the quality of their indoor environment. And they should be. We spend 90% of our day indoors; the safety of our environment is critical. Workers and the general public only want to go to buildings that are clean, safe, and even improve their overall wellness. In fact, research shows that employees value a sustainable healthy building over a small salary increase. And the general public values doing business with companies that have WELL building environments.
WELL Real Estate is Valuable
The Well Building Standard and other similar certifications can add value to your building. Add to the mix that the current pandemic has highlighted the need for WELL buildings. Issues like sanitation, emergency preparedness, and clean air and water are critical components that are addressed through WELL design. It is no wonder there is an uptick in owners reaching out for WELL certification. Owners realize there is a tangible ROI on keeping their employees safe and productive. After all, that is their number one asset!
The Café – A Starring Role
The Café, already considered a necessary amenity in most buildings, plays an integral part in a WELL Building. The Café design and operation impacts all ten WELL design categories required for building certification. Let’s explore each design category from the lens of how the Café can contribute to a Well Certification.
Ten Café Criteria Impacting WELL
- High efficiency cooking exhaust hoods
- Pollution control systems
- Microbe and mold control kitchen systems
- Water filtration systems
- Drinking water dispensers with bottle refilling
- Nutritional transparency
- Locally sourced foods
- Mindful eating spaces
- Add daylight to kitchens and serving areas
- Minimize glare at workstations
- Ergonomic workstations
- Ergonomic equipment certification
- Thermal Comfort
- Control kitchen humidity and hot temperatures
- Efficient thermal comfort in challenging kitchen environments
- Noise reduction equipment
- Noise reduction wall /door placement and design
- Waste management plan
- Sustainable cleaning systems and products
- Design culinary experiences with influences of nature, culture and celebration of place
- Require Operations Human Resources team to promote mental health policies
- Require foodservice operational emergency preparedness plans
- Integrative process whereby the café influences overall building WELL and sustainability issues
WELL is Second Nature to Consultants
We always design kitchens and foodservice areas with WELL in mind, regardless of whether the owner’s goal is to achieve certification. Our Sustainability and Waste Management Group develops protocol for handling and minimizing hazardous wastes, which involves separating hazardous waste from other solid wastes and procuring adequate receptors for recycling or final disposal. And our Business Consulting Group develops Foodservice Operator RFP’s, requiring WELL practices from an operations and management level. We believe it just makes sense to create an environment that delivers the best chance of achieving healthy wellbeing for everyone involved.
On the Equipment Front
We ensure all the equipment systems adhere to WELL Criteria. Foodservice manufacturers constantly are developing new foodservice equipment systems that adhere to WELL criteria. Some innovative concepts that are on the market include but are not limited to:
- ErgoCert is the first internationally recognized agency to test and approve equipment to be ergonomically friendly, thereby ensuring employees will work comfortably in their workstation.
- One of the lead manufacturers of air doors introduced technology to increase air scrubbing to fight airborne bacteria and viruses.
- In a similar vein, there is increased interest in walk-in cooler air purifiers.
- A new hand sink was just released with a final hand scan feature to verify that employees have indeed washed their hands correctly. The scan detects bacteria and dirt on hands.
- The continued advancement in whole kitchen water filter systems whereby the filtered water of various types travels to each piece of equipment in the kitchen.
- More and more companies are introducing self-cleaning evaporator coils on their refrigeration, which allows for a cleaner and quieter environment.
- And finally, more clients are embracing indoor herb and vegetable vertical farming. This ticks off the boxes for local food production and biophilia-type environments.
You’ve Got WELL! Now What?
In the end, it’s all about third party verification of your WELL program. Owners love the fact that a WELL team comes out to verify the design and the monitoring programs that are set in place to ensure the indoor environment is as tranquil as possible. From a technical standpoint, WELL relies heavily on sophisticated computer monitoring systems to ensure continued compliance and success. Sensors and monitors provide real time data 24/7 to habitants of the building. In many cases buildings will post public displays of real time water quality, noise levels, humidity, temperature, C02 levels in the air, air quality, and much more.
Be WELL, Stay WELL, Live WELL
To be sure, WELL is coming to all building types and your neighborhood soon! Be on the forefront of this movement and we can all be WELL, stay WELL and live WELL.
By: Kip Serfozo, FCSI, LEED ID&C AP, WELL AP
Director of Design – East | Atlanta