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28 June 2017

Working WELL, Being WELL Event at HOK’s New York Office

HOK’s New York office hosted a panel discussion to explore the many benefits of implementing the WELL Building Standard in workplaces.

The WELL standard was created from evidence-based guidelines for healthier buildings. It outlines best practices for improving the health and wellness of building occupants, from using non-toxic paints to encouraging the use of stairs and limiting access to junk food.

“This is our passion. HOK has been completely dedicated to sustainable design over the last 30 years, and it’s at the very core of our ethos,” said Carl Galioto, HOK’s president and managing principal of the New York office. “We believe that the next step beyond sustainability is fundamentally what’s at the root of all this—the human experience and human health.”

Martha MacInnis, design director of enterprise real estate at TD Bank Group, kicked off the event by explaining how and why TD Bank was an early adopter of the WELL Building Standard. TD is seeing tangible, quantifiable results in employee health and satisfaction, specifically in its HOK-designed TD office in Toronto, which received WELL Gold certification.

With companies incurring up to 80 percent of total expenses on people, Paul Scialla, founder and CEO of Delos and founder of the International WELL Building Institute, sees the standard as common sense. Scialla views health and wellness as the most critical factor in attracting new talent and retaining existing employees.

“It comes down to $100-$200 per employee … for a constant and passive delivery of over 100 features that will enhance their cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, sleep and cognitive health outcomes. It’s a no brainer,” said Scialla.

Kay Sargent, director of WorkPlace at HOK, took the opportunity to introduce HOK’s proprietary deck of WELL cards, which will be used to help introduce clients and partners to 52 key ideas behind the WELL Building Standard so they can choose which strategies to pursue early in the design process.

“Sitting stagnantly is killing people faster than what any wall is off-gassing,” noted Sargent. “As workplace designers, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to do something about that.”