Wellness Is The Second Wave of Sustainability

  August 8, 2017

By Greg Zimmerman

In a recent article in the Huffingon Post, Chairman and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute Rick Fedrizzi (if that name sounds familiar, he’s the former Founder and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council) called occupant wellness the “second wave of sustainability.”

For Fedrizzi, the first wave of sustainability — beginning in the 1990s with the rise of LEED and other green building rating systems — was concentrating on environmental sustainability in buildings. In his opinion, in many cases, we’ve moved to a point where the line is increasingly blurred between a “sustainable building” and a traditional one. Fedrizzi had long made it his goal to see that there is no green building and traditional building…there’s just building. In other words, building and operating in an environmentally responsible, resource efficient manner is just standard operating procedure.

Which is great! But now it’s time to build on that success and move on to, as Fedrizzi says, “the second wave of sustainability.” That includes not just environmentally responsible buildings, but human responsible buildings as well.

And there’s some evidence that this second wave is not just happening, but happening quickly. The International WELL Building Institute just announced it has crossed the 100 million square foot mark for registered and certified space. Which is also great!

Remember the term “sick building syndrome”? Can you imagine a building you’re managing labeled with that these days? You’d be polishing your resume pretty quickly.

But obviously, health and wellness goes well beyond simply not making occupants sick. It means enhancing their experience in a building in just about every possible sense — art work in common areas, outdoor space to get fresh air, daylight, stand-up or even treadmill desks to make sure workers aren’t sitting all day (because “sitting is the new smoking”).

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on the how sustainability and resilience complement each other.


Read next on FacilitiesNet