Thinking outside of the 'green' box

April 20, 2016 Jessica Bollhoefer

When it comes to sustainability, companies and landlords need to start thinking outside of the ‘green' box in order to attract new occupiers in a tightening market. After all, sustainability isn’t just about the environment anymore. It’s also about health and wellness, which is why more and more building owners are looking to add amenities such as fitness centers, bike racks and showers within their facilities, as well as to integrate health and wellness measures into the design of their buildings. However, landlords need to be thoughtful about how they tackle the demand for building amenities, as the added electricity alone can greatly increase the budget, with electrical making up nearly a third of total renovation cost.

There are many pros to adding wellness focused amenities within your building, whether included in ground up construction or through renovation:

  • Attracting top talent: Talent today, especially millennials, want to work for a company that promotes quality of life. 74 percent of employees aged 25-34 are most likely to consider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) when deciding where to work, and an easy way to develop strong CSR is through sustainably built amenities1.  Millennials are characterized by several key attributes, including their tendency to hop between companies, desire for mobility within their current positions and need to work for a company that shares their values. Developing a corporate culture that reflects the need for wellness, mobility and value-driven social responsibility allows a company to retain some of that transient millennial talent.
  • Healthier employees: Providing bike racks and showers so employees can commute to and from work, as well as onsite fitness centers so employees can stay fit, clearly promotes healthier and happier employees. Healthy employees save building occupiers money, reducing injury and illness costs 20 to 40 percent, according to OSHA2
  • Increased productivity: According to a study conducted by JLL, sustainable build outs that include outdoor space and internal improvements increase overall workforce productivity by 16 percent.

These amenities, however, come with a cost. Redevelopment is not cheap – and costs continue to rise. An average gym buildout, for example, can range from $20 per square foot to $120 per square foot, depending on size. All of the special materials needed to build a successful gym, beyond equipment like treadmills and exercise bikes, can make it an expensive endeavor if the project is not planned out well in advance.

Beyond these amenities, another effective – and economical – way of integrating health and wellness measures into your facility is through the implementation of wellness LEED pilot credits. The LEED Pilot Credit Library “allows projects to test more innovative credits that haven't been through USGBC's complete drafting and balloting process” and can be incorporated if you are pursuing or are interested in pursuing a LEED Certification. A few wellness related LEED pilot credits include3:

And some companies are really pushing the envelope by pursuing WELL™ certification – meeting rigorous criteria for air quality, lighting design, drinking water, fitness and comfort. This criteria also includes workplace health policies and benefits such as maternity and stress leave, nutrition education and the provision of healthy food in the workplace. Due to its rigor, time and investment, however, WELL™ is currently only being pursued by early adopters.

Whether your organization is looking to make minor improvements to your existing office or is about to undergo a major renovation, the health and wellness of your employees should be top of mind. By thinking outside of the ‘green' box and shifting the way you approach sustainability, your building can move past the premise of “do no harm” to a much greater focus on holistic health promotion for all – ultimately increasing overall employee productivity and happiness.

To find out how you can incorporate health and wellness within your facility starting today, contact Jessica Bollhoefer


1http://www.conecomm.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/0/6579872bc969cf4ba2168e04b368424e/files/2015_cone_communications_millennial_csr_study___press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf

2https://www.osha.gov/Publications/safety-health-addvalue.html

3http://www.usgbc.org/node/2606889?return=/pilotcredits/Commercial-Interiors/v2009
   http://www.usgbc.org/node/2606916?return=/pilotcredits/Commercial-Interiors/v2009 
   http://www.usgbc.org/node/2648813?return=/pilotcredits/Commercial-Interiors/v2009
   http://www.usgbc.org/node/2736716?return=/pilotcredits/Commercial-Interiors/v2009 
   http://www.usgbc.org/node/2743606?return=/pilotcredits/Commercial-Interiors/v2009

About the Author

Jessica Bollhoefer

Jessica Bollhoefer is the Midwest Region Sustainability Practice Lead with JLL’s Project and Development Services group in Chicago, IL. Jessica has over 10 years of experience managing a diverse portfolio of projects including large-scale construction and renovation projects, landmark restorations, interior build-outs, energy retrofits and LEED certifications. As a LEED Accredited Professional, she is focused on reducing building energy use and the impact of construction on the environment through the implementation of green certifications and sustainability focused real estate initiatives.

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