Blue buildings

Our built environment has a profound impact on human welfare and health.

Blue buildingClosely linked to human wellbeing and health include increased productivity, academic performance, willingness to cooperate, purchasing behavior and satisfaction. Now we spend 90% of our time in buildings. We live, work, shop, recreate and send our children to school in buildings. Our habits, choices and health are affected by the quality of buildings. At the same time, most chronic diseases of our time id lifestyle related. Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mental illnesses are often the result of lifestyle choices and are stress related.

Apart from this direct value creation at the micro level, a good health also provides a macroeconomic value through healthy environments in which we reside. A healthier society after all supplies to lower public health costs. In an era of non sustainable acting and aging, interventions in favor of a vibrant civil society becomes an important social issue.
It is no coincidence that the health and wellness industry is now the fastest growing industry in the world, driven by an exponentially growing demand for products and services in this area.
Although the link between these two worlds of the built environment and health studies is increasingly put on the agenda of state governments, platforms, academia, and private parties, there is no institution in which the various stakeholders are united in order to further develop this theme.

The European Blue Building Institute (EBBI) connects these public-private worlds together and operates at the intersection of buildings and health & well-being at European level.

The primary goal of the Institute is to create a movement in which the promotion of human sustainability through the built environment is key.

Our aim is to develop a European standard for the design, construction and management of buildings on people. This planet is not the starting point but people are. This standard provides a practical support for the sector in addressing human welfare.

The Blue Building Institute seeks both to remove the obstacles, as to set up initiatives to create an effective infrastructure for an ecosystem around the theme of “human health and the built environment.”

This theme is multidisciplinary by nature so various stakeholder groups should be involved. So far this theme is primarily flown from the property-related value chain and translated as indoor climate. In our view, this issue goes far beyond that and is not confined to comfort or materials.

The only successful way to progress, is by a holistic approach to the topic, so to approach the built environment from a human perspective. This means in practice that we need to cooperate, while support should be created among the various stakeholders.
Who are these stakeholders?

• Human beings, end users who are directly experiencing the effects of the building where they live, work, learn, shop, receiving care and relaxes. Interest: health, well-being, happiness, comfort.
• The organization that acts as a tenant, especially in commercial real estate, and often it is at the same time employer. This group has an interest in the employee’s being productive, work well together and be innovative. Also an important issue is to reduce sick leave and increase employee satisfaction in the context of attracting and retaining talent.
• The building owner with an interest in a good quality, future-proof building with minimal vacancy and long-term leases. The added value that is delivered to tenants and end users is a chance for building owners to differentiate themselves.
• (health) Insurers that are increasingly aware of prevention in an aging world where health care costs are a daily topic of discussion. If buildings play an important role in achieving prevention goals, this stakeholder group is crucial.
• The medical and technical world.

WELL Building Standard™

Our built environment can shape our habits and choices, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, drive us toward healthy and unhealthy choices, and passively influence our health through the quality of our surroundings.

Health and wellness is one of the largest growing industries, and consumers are impacting this growing demand. In the design and development industry, owners, designers and builders expect health to have a higher influence on design and construction decisions over the next two years.

The WELL Building Standard provides the opportunity to design and build with a human-centered approach, which ultimately supports the industry in comprehensively addressing human health.

Explore the WELL Building Standard

Adding Value

The WELL Building Standard provides a meaningful way to advance human health and well-being through the spaces where we spend more than 90% of our time. Developed by exploring scientific research on environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes and demographic risk factors and integrating the observations with leading practices for building design, construction and management, WELL is a blueprint for creating better spaces that can improve the lives of people everywhere.

By placing people at the heart of design, construction, operations and development decisions, we have the ability to add meaningful value to real estate assets, generate savings in personnel costs, and enhance the human experience, health and wellbeing. WELL empowers the creation of healthy environments for people to live, work and play, enhancing the health of people and quality of life globally.

People who work in WELL Certified environments have expressed the positive impacts their WELL offices have on productivity and performance. 

Cundall, at its One Carter Lane office in London, reported experiencing a 27% reduction in employee turnover compared to the previous year, totaling £122,000 (€132.500) in savings.(1) CBRE Madrid reported that 80% of employees believed their new office enabled them to be more productive,(2) and Symantec reported that 77% of employees feel the space fosters more collaboration and socialization, a 28% increase over their views toward the previous space.(3) At Arup Boston, 43% of staff said they feel more healthy in the office compared to not in the office, compared to 2% in their previous office.(4) Landsec reported 40% increased satisfaction with air quality and 25% increased satisfaction with lighting in their WELL Certified Silver office renovation.(5)


(1) (4) Creating Positive Spaces: Using the WELL Building Standard, Interface 2018

(2) Los beneficios de una oficina WELL​, CBRE Spain

(3) Symantec Project Profile, IWBI 2018

(5) Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building, World Green Building Council 2018

 The WELL Investment

We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors and our buildings can have a profound impact on our health and well-being. WELL outlines a comprehensive approach to creating healthy spaces, leveraging design strategies, operational protocols, personnel policies and performance thresholds.

We need to take a data-driven approach to creating healthy spaces because our bodies react to the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the light we see and the sound we hear. WELL enables you to achieve evidence-based strategies that have a positive impact on human health.

We can’t improve what we don’t measure. Therefore, our environments should be optimised and tested to promote health and well-being. WELL Certified projects meet global benchmarks for performance, gaining public recognition for their visible and rigorous commitment to human health.

Building Costs
Personnel costs significantly outweigh the costs for design and construction and operations and maintenance.
By channeling resources toward reducing the biggest line item in the 30-year costs of a building—the personnel—the business case for WELL features a meaningful return on investment.

Building Costs Percentage
Design & Construction 2
Operations & Maintenance 6
Personnel 92


Source: Osso, Annette. Sustainable Building Technical Manual. [Online] 1994. Public Technology, Inc. 16.

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Less than four years since launch, more than 900 projects are engaged with WELL, encompassing more than 175 million square feet across 34 countries.

Read more about WELL projects in the Netherlands and globally on the WELL project directory. For WELL project profiles and stories, please visit IWBI’s articles hub.