Sally Franklin, Group Executive, Real Estate Services & Business Operations, Investa

Today’s commercial office building owners face a range of complex issues around building performance and management. But one of the newest and most dynamic for them to address is how they can expand the way they facilitate and support the wellness of the people who work in their buildings. In a commitment to creating people-focused workspaces and enhancing health benefits for building occupants, building owners need to go beyond traditional roles and seek new ways to add value to tenant health and wellbeing.

Investa has established a leadership position in Australian building wellness, achieving the first WELL Core & Shell Precertification at the Gold level by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) for its Barrack Place development, and being selected to participate in the influential global round table to develop a WELL rating tool for existing office buildings.

In November 2017, Investa also launched an innovative Health and Wellbeing program for tenants in partnership with leading healthcare provider Bupa. Aiming to help people who work in Investa buildings achieve better health and work-life balance, the program delivers a range of services, information and online tools.

Facilitated by Investa’s Insite tenant portal and delivered by Bupa, tenants are offered a range of services such as heart health assessments, meditation classes, nutrition consultations, healthy cooking demonstrations and flu vaccinations. Supplementary information is also available on everything from managing work stress and family health to positive parenting and exercise.

The program aligns with Investa’s broader objectives of providing a holistic service experience to its tenants, beyond the provision of space and the efficient and sustainable operation of its buildings. Offering the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of thousands of building occupants, delivering a healthier, more engaged and productive workforce for building tenants.

The impact of building owners committing to improve health and well-being of tenants is significant, with Investa’s office buildings providing workspaces to approximately 100,000 people every day.

The concept of wellness in buildings is certainly not new to Investa, being an integral part of its management and development strategies for many years. Investa’s Barrack Place in Sydney’s CBD was the first development in Australia to be awarded WELL Core & Shell Precertification at the Gold level by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™).

Administered by IWBI, WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellness through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

As a new building, Barrack Place provided Investa the unique opportunity to deliver a healthier workplace from the beginning. The WELL Building Standard meant Investa could take this further and incorporate the science of wellness into the fabric of the building, locking these benefits in for decades to come.

While still relatively new in Australia, WELL Certification is fast becoming the new global standard in good building design. Currently, more than 394 projects encompassing more than 7.7 million square metres are registered or certified through the WELL Building Standard globally.

Importantly, enhancing wellness and health for tenants is not just something to be considered in newly constructed buildings. Given the sheer scale of older buildings in Australia’s capital cities, it is vital that these buildings can also deliver holistic wellbeing benefits.

Buildings more than 10 years old make up more than 72% of office space in Australia’s major CBDs and have the potential to make a significant impact. Further, upgrades and enhancements to the building’s function enable it to be repositioned from low performance to market leading.

In Australia’s capital cities, existing buildings present the biggest challenges and also the potential to unlock the greatest opportunities in terms of building performance. More importantly, they hold the key to widescale improvement of the health and wellbeing of the millions who work in them every day.

Investa is collaborating with other global leaders to develop the model for enhancing existing buildings to deliver wellness benefits. As a leading office manager in Australia, Investa was selected as a representative for existing office buildings at the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) Global Advisory Roundtable in New York. Investa joined 27 other global commercial office owners and managers to help shape the future direction of this new WELL rating tool to takes advantage of the unique efficiencies available in a portfolio of existing buildings.

It would be a mistake to think of healthier buildings as just a new fad in the marketplace, it is a dynamic and leading force underlying the strategy of successfully managing Australia’s commercial office buildings – both new and old. Further, fostering healthier buildings also has far-reaching benefits for building owners, tenants and the wider community.