In 2021, we saw extraordinary growth in health and wellbeing related to the built environment at the International WELL Building Institute, the leading authority for transforming health and wellbeing with its people-first approach to buildings, organisations and communities.

Ann-Marie Aguilar

Ann Marie Aguilar

Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) now account for 3,000 WELL projects comprising 260m sq ft across 42 countries. The UK, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France are leading regional expansion through the WELL Health-Safety Rating, pursuit of WELL Certification and WELL Portfolio.

In December, we announced that we had crossed the 3bn sq ft mark of spaces enrolled in WELL. Last year, the total area where WELL offerings are applied tripled from 1bn sq ft to more than 3bn sq ft, with WELL strategies supporting the health and wellbeing of 13.6 million people in more than 33,000 locations in nearly 100 countries around the world.

Within EMEA, Middle East engagement in the WELL Health-Safety Rating led by governmental entities such as the United Arab Emirate’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Dubai Land Department’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency helped drive an 18% increase in WELL adoption over the course of 2021.

Since the launch of the WELL Building Standard in 2014, more than 2,000 companies, including 20% of the Fortune 500, have adopted WELL as an evidence-based roadmap for scaling up health strategies across their organisation. Major companies engaging with WELL include ARM, Brookfield Asset Management, Citigroup, Cushman & Wakefield, JPMorgan Chase and Lendlease APPF.

Happy people buildings

Source: Shutterstock / bbernard

WELL is the leading global framework for scaling up health strategies across buildings, organisations and communities. Developed more than 10 years ago and backed by scientific research, WELL outlines key building-level interventions and organisational strategies across 10 categories: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

Throughout 2021, IWBI ramped up efforts to elevate health and wellbeing across the investment landscape through its Investing for Health platform, highlighting how health and organisational performance are intrinsically linked.

IWBI has also continued its focus on the research that underpins WELL. The ‘Global Research Agenda: Health, Well-being and the Built Environment’ highlights outstanding research gaps and sector-specific strategies required to push people-first building practices forward, while balancing the needs of industry, research and policy.

Further growth is ahead in 2022. In collaboration with IWBI advisories and market influencers, new WELL ratings and programmes are under development. The forthcoming WELL Performance Rating will reward building owners and operators for using measurable and validated building and human performance metrics to gain insights into the health and wellbeing of the people inside and enhance conditions in their spaces based on those insights.

IWBI’s Health Equity Advisory is helping to identify opportunities for a new WELL Equity Rating, which aims to make places that prioritise health accessible to all individuals.

Ann Marie Aguilar is senior vice-president EMEA at International WELL Building Institute