Building Operating Management

Water Features Support Shifting Occupant Health and Wellness Demand



Water features not only bring health and wellness benefits for occupants, they can improve the value of an asset. Here's what you need to know.


By Chris Roy   Green

The pandemic significantly transformed the way office tenants view building amenities related to health and wellness.

The Grand

Before COVID-19, the health and wellness amenities that office tenants were demanding included on-site gyms, health-conscious food and beverage options, and sustainable building systems. While the latter item still looms large, these companies’ health and wellness concerns, during and post-pandemic, have shifted to focus on reduction of viral transmission and increased mental well-being in the wake of a major worldwide crisis.

Office owners and developers are taking note of these demands and incorporating a new brand of health-oriented amenities into their properties – many of which are focused on the outdoors. For example, Irvine Co. recently broke ground on Spectrum Terrace, a 1.1 million square-foot office project in Irvine, California, that includes an Olympic-length swimming pool with cabanas and a café, 33 acres of outdoor space with a 1.5-mile running trail, an indoor/outdoor fitness center, and an outdoor kitchen and bar. Live/work/play is clearly evolving to a new level.

As this shift continues in office buildings, there is a strong case for adding water features to these properties. Here are some of the benefits of implementing water features in office spaces, the health rewards that these amenities offer, and how office stakeholders can meet this new demand.

Water features add value to office assets

Amenities including outdoor fountains, ponds, and rockwork enhance the value of office properties in a number of ways. In addition to intensifying the aesthetics and curb appeal of these buildings, today’s water features provide a much-desired element of sustainability that tenants and investors are demanding. 

For example, these fountains can use water from non-potable sources, including captured HVAC condensate, recycled water – assisted by the filtration and sanitation systems used to keep the water clear and safe – grey water (which is water that is recycled from on-site systems such as sinks or other non-sewage uses), and captured rainwater. Also, fountains can recirculate water so that the only water loss is to evaporation, a minimal loss.

Further, outdoor fountains that use chemical-free biological water-sanitizing systems are an option. These systems translate into lower costs for chemicals and chemical handling, reduced impact on sanitary sewers, and are beneficial to local wildlife. Water features that are properly designed, built, and maintained can decrease energy and water consumption, reducing utility bills and benefiting the environment.

These sustainability factors bump up the value of office properties by lowering expenses and providing the green features that increasingly appeal to tenants and investors.

These amenities promote mental, physical, and emotional/spiritual health among tenants

Water features holistically impact the health of office tenants and their teams in a positive way

Being around water has been shown to benefit people physically, psychologically, and emotionally/spiritually. With its gentle or rushing sounds, water calms the nerves and helps de-stress, which improves mood and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Humans are drawn to water as it gives them a greater sense of connection to a higher purpose. Office-based water features deliver these healthful effects to companies and their employees every time they come to work.

In addition, well-maintained water features provide a clean amenity that reduces the risk of viral transmission at an office property – which is of heightened importance in the current pandemic era. When considering a water feature, safety and cleanliness should be a top priority, keeping in mind health codes that were in place long before COVID-19 to keep the water features clean and safe. Filtration and sanitation systems are important pieces of these water features, and it’s important to maintain these amenities to keep them sterile (or, in the case of living water systems, to ensure a balanced, pathogen-free ecosystem). 

There is a wide variety of water features that will satisfy tenant demands

From fountains to ponds to waterfalls and rockwork, water features work in a broad spectrum of office settings: small outdoor gathering areas, large courtyards and landscaped spaces, lobbies, and more. The design of each of these settings can be greatly enhanced by the right water feature.

By adding value to office assets and holistically enhancing tenants’ health in a plethora of ways, water features can satisfy shifting health and wellness demands at these properties well into the future.  

Chris Roy is director of creative design for Outside the Lines, Inc., a design-build themed construction company that specializes in creating one-of-a-kind rockwork, water features, and themed environments for retail entertainment, hospitality, gaming, and golfing projects around the globe.




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  posted on 9/3/2021   Article Use Policy




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