The purpose of this Guidance Note is to provide asset managers, property managers and facilities managers with information about the importance of health and wellbeing, and how health and wellbeing opportunities can be integrated into real estate.
The real estate sector has matured in recent years by building on the existing focus on health and safety to consider the broader range of physical and mental health issues included within health and wellbeing.
The World Health Organisation defines health and wellbeing as, ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’1
Property management is responding to the increasing interest in health and wellbeing with a range of specialisms. These include, for example, enhanced cleaning regimes, indoor air quality testing and occupier engagement programs.
As real estate navigates towards post-Covid-19 re-occupancy, real estate has a major role to play in supporting the operation of space that is safe and healthy from a mental and physical wellbeing perspective.
Post-pandemic recovery provides a great opportunity to shape assets to provide better indoor environment for occupants and bringing nature into our spaces. It further enables prevention, preparedness and resilience in relation to future health issues through provision of appropriate air circulation and ventilation.
The built environment can positively and negatively influence the health and wellbeing of its occupiers. Positive physical and mental health can contribute towards low levels of absence and reduced presenteeism. This, in turn, can contribute towards increased productivity for occupiers and, in turn, greater value for asset managers.
While a range of regulatory requirements address health and safety issues, for example, inspecting air conditioning assets and testing of water systems, there are no specific legal requirements specifically reating to health and wellbeing.
Increasingly, however, local authorities and planning policies provide a focus on health and wellbeing within the built environment. For example, The London Plan includes a focus on addressing health inequalities and wellbeing in new developments.
Poor mental health is estimated to costs UK employers more than £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence.2 Improving health and wellbeing has the potential to make a positive financial contribution for occupiers through a reduction in the direct, and indirect, costs of absence and presenteeism.
In turn, properties with strong health and well-being credentials also have potential to attract greater value. In challenging times such as during the Covid-19 pandemic, properties with positive health and wellbeing attributes can also better retain value.
Organisations and their employees are increasingly aware of the influence that the built environment can have on their physical and mental health. In turn, they are demanding enhanced health and wellbeing performance through the provision of property features and workplace initiatives.
The growing importance of health and well-being in the property market is reflected in the emergence of ratings and certifications, such as WELL and Fitwel, for example. These accreditations set out a number of health impact areas against which applicants rate their property.
In 2020, both WELL and Fitwel launched new modules in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Both are aimed at demonstrating building safety in relation to viral transmission and generating occupiers’ trust that their workplace is a safe place.
The table below summarises the key activities associated in identifying health and wellbeing opportunities, and highlights where asset managers, property managers and facilities managers are likely to have a responsibility or specific interest.
Step 1: Gap analysis and review
Step 2: Select health and wellbeing improvements
Step 3: Consider funding options
Step 4: Engage and monitor
While an asset manager will maintain a general interest in the health and wellbeing performance of a property, and will be directly involved in investment decisions, and the process of co-ordinating health and wellbeing improvements is coordinated by the property manager, with input from the facilities manager.
Developing and implementing a strategy to improve health and wellbeing involves the following steps:
If a property is already operational, it may be beneficial to undertake a health and well-being audit. This will establish existing health and wellbeing credentials, the benefit they provide and whether they will form part of a revised strategy. It is also important to undertake an occupier survey, and potentially a wider building user survey, to establish the health and wellbeing requirements and aspiration of different stakeholder groups.
It is important to engage with the asset manager and occupiers to consider potential certification of the property across the range of health and wellbeing rating and certification schemes, or, as is often the case, wellbeing ‘ready’ rather than going down the route of full certification.
Relevant certification schemes include:
There are a number of frameworks available which provide guidelines for project teams if they wish to embed the principles of wellbeing, including:
Covid-19 related frameworks and certification include:
There are a range of ways to improve the health and wellbeing performance of a property. This may involve altering a property’s base build structure, its ongoing operations or how the property manager interacts with the building occupiers and its local community.
Some examples include:
The shape of a health and well-being strategy should be informed by the outcomes from health and wellbeing audits and surveys. This may be complemented by technical consultants who can:
As health and well-being strategies can take many forms and incur a range of costs, it is important to establish how a health and well-being strategy will be funded. This is likely to involves be a mix of funding sources, for example part-asset manager, part-service charge, if leases allow.
Funding options will change depending on the stage in the building life cycle. For example, if the building is under construction or being refurbished then initiatives are more likely to be directly funded by the asset manager.
Engaging occupiers is central in achieving the benefits relating to health and wellbeing. It is important that occupiers and their employees are aware of the health and wellbeing features and workplace initiatives available at a property. This will enable them to:
There are a range of methods that can be used to engage occupiers. This may include occupier engagement forums as well as various communication channels such as posters, screens and, where relevant, pop-up booths and awareness seminars or case study publications.
It is also important to provide occupiers with training on health and wellbeing features and workplace initiatives. For example, the use of defibrillators or the safe and effective use of fitness equipment.
Regular monitoring, including the development of metrics to measure the take up and impact of health and wellbeing initiatives, enables asset and property managers, and occupiers, to evaluate the ongoing suitability. This should include a post-occupancy evaluation as part of securing feedback over the longer term.
The following Guidance Notes contain related information:
Green Roofs in Central London
When British Land first included green roofs in its Sustainability Brief for Developments in 2004, the firm needed to work closely with its design partners and property teams to design, plant and maintain habitats that really enhanced biodiversity. Since then, British Land has created green roofs on 12 new buildings in central London, with more under design, and has successfully retrofitted them to three existing buildings. Read the case study here.
Ecological Master Plan in London
As part of The Crown Estate’s ecological master plan for its holdings in Regent Street and St James’s, the organisation is creating a green corridor linking Regent's Park and St James's Park. Plans include green roofs, brown roofs, green walls, pocket habitats, community gardens, street trees, window boxes and planters, as well as bird boxes, bat boxes and bee hives. Through its estate-wide approach, The Crown Estate is creating valuable habitats for wildlife and improving the experience for people living, working and visiting the area. It will also kick start the 'Wild West End’, a unique collaboration by London property owners to promote green infrastructure in the capital, supported by the Mayor of London, the London Wildlife Trust and Arup. Read the case study here.
intu Boosts Health and Wellbeing Through Green Gyms
intu has partnered with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), local authorities and local communities for ten years to establish Green Gyms® near intu centres around the UK. Green Gyms promote healthy activity, nurture community spirit and regenerate green spaces. This increases the sense of connectedness with the intu brand locally and strengthens relationships with local stakeholders. intu’s support, funding and volunteers have helped TCV establish ten Green Gyms. Each Green Gym becomes self-sustaining within a few years, allowing intu and TCV to focus their collective resources on new locations and create additional Green Gyms. Read the case study here.
Grosvenor Tests Wellbeing and Efficiency Plans Through its London Office
Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has introduced a range of new technologies at its London office to test the potential for rollout across its London estate in the West End. They include biophilic design, green living walls, pollution-neutralising paint, ultra-low water-use toilets, a wellbeing room, a maternity room, smart lighting and a highly successful delivery consolidation programme. Read case study here.
Aberdeen Standard Investments Partners on Energy Efficiency and Wellbeing Pilot
Aberdeen Standard Investments has partnered with KJ Tait Engineers to trial Ecopilot at One Trinity Gardens in Newcastle. In addition to enabling energy and carbon savings, the pilot project has identified opportunities to improve the working environment for occupiers, connecting various building systems so they work collaboratively together and making greater use of the building’s thermal storage capability. Building on this success, the team is now progressing opportunities for wider rollout. Read the case study here.
Workman Connects with Customers at Birmingham Business Park
Workman has long offered a vibrant events programme for occupiers at Birmingham Business Park, from big screenings and cycling races, to mindfulness and yoga sessions. In the current unprecedented situation, they acted quickly to refocus the social calendar to continue connecting with customers. Working with suppliers and occupiers, they moved activities online wherever possible and found new ways to support the wider local community. Read the case study here.
The Crown Estate and Savills Partner to Transform Employee and Visitor Greener Travel
Over the past two years, The Crown Estate has partnered with Savills to identify opportunities to positively influence how users of their retail and leisure destinations travel to these locations. Together, they are rolling out Sustainable Travel Plans across The Crown Estate’s Regional retail portfolio, introducing measures to encourage more people to use more sustainable forms of transport to visit or get to work in the future, such as walking, cycling and using public transport. Over time, this will generate significant environmental and social benefits. Read the case study here.
Grosvenor Britain & Ireland Achieves Passivhaus First at 11 and 19 Passmore Street
11 and 19 Passmore Street are the first privately rented buildings in London to achieve the EnerPHit Passivhaus standard. Developed by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, the refurbished properties give customers the best of both worlds – the appeal of a period home at a quality above new build. Building on the success of this project, Grosvenor is already upgrading more buildings to the EnerPHit Passivhaus standard. Read the case study here.
Shaftesbury’s Sustainable Refurbishment at 39 William IV Street
Shaftesbury chose 39 William IV Street to test the feasibility of achieving BREEAM Very Good on domestic refurbishments in older buildings. The completed scheme will deliver 576m2 of modern residential accommodation and 405m2 of restaurant space, all with high operational efficiency. As a result of the project, Shaftesbury now plans to target BREEAM Very Good on more domestic refurbishments, as well as commercial schemes. Read the case study here.
Savills Proves the Power of Technology to Improve Air Quality in Existing Buildings
In 2019, Savills piloted an evidence-based approach to improving indoor air quality in central London offices. The team aligned their approach with RESET™ Air – Core and Shell, a globally recognised standard. They installed RESET-accredited sensors in a multi-occupied building on a busy road and monitored performance against RESET targets. This yielded useful insights into air quality and empowered the building team to take action to improve performance. Read the case study here.