In practice: Landsec’s BREEAM Outstanding headquarters designed to WELL standards

As more companies look to create the right work environments for staff wellbeing, Landsec created the UK's largest fully WELL Certified space for staff health, which also achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

The Challenge

With more companies actively seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff, and embedding it into corporate responsibility strategies, Landsec realised that clients were after built environment solutions that could contribute to both sustainability and wellbeing.

As a result, the largest property developer in the UK sought certification of the WELL Building Standard, which explores how design, operations and behaviours in offices can contribute and advance human health and wellbeing.

However, before Landsec started tailoring other firm’s buildings to this standard, they needed to find a suitable space to testbed new fit-outs and retrofits, to examine what overlaps existed between WELL and BREEAM standards, and whether any extra measures or costs were required to achieve both.

The Solution

In December 2016, Landsec moved its office headquarters to 100 Victoria Street, a building that was originally constructed in 2006 as part of a property portfolio in central London. As they were in the process of moving offices, Landsec decided to target WELL certification in its own offices to examine the viability of the initiative and provide evidence and context on any future projects for its clientele.

The relocation gave Landsec the chance to create a new workplace ethos that championed active working conditions to improve staff health and wellbeing. All 470 employees were gradually moved into a single floor office in January 2017.

The project is the first workplace in the world to achieve WELL Certified Silver and BREEAM Outstanding, by reducing negative environmental impacts and promoting communication and collaboration for staff wellbeing.

The Benefits

100 Victoria Street achieved a BREEAM Outstanding score of 92.3%, through responsible sourcing, reducing waste and cutting the embodied carbon intensity. Using BRE IMPACT methodology, the project scores an embodied carbon intensity that is half the size of comparable projects. An 11.5% reduction in embodied carbon was also delivered against the initial blueprints of the project.

By sourcing low-carbon materials, such as 79% recycled aluminum for metal applications and carpets consisting of 44% recycled carpet tiles, Landsec was able to reduce its embodied carbon intensity.

As defined by BREEAM, 99.7% of materials used in the project were procured from sustainable sources. The reuse of existing furniture, where applicable, frameless glazing and omitting a suspended ceiling all contributed to the 11.5% lower embodied carbon score.

In total, 99.91% of all materials met BREEAM requirements, and just six items across the entire fit-out were unable to provide the necessary certificates. FSC Project Certification was also achieved across all materials, including furniture, with 99% achieving certification.

Energy Star labelled equipment, including LED lighting and efficient building services were implemented to reduce operational energy use. Elsewhere, energy metering and Demand Logic data analytics are used to monitor, analyse and act on real-time energy efficiency levels.

The project team consisted of architect KKS, main contractors ISG, building services consultant Long & Partners. BREEAM assessment was carried out by RES Design, while WELL certification was examined and undertaken by AECOM.

The WELL benefits

The WELL Standard aims to “transform the indoor environment by placing health and ‘wellness’ at the centre of design and construction decisions through research, consulting, real estate development and by offering innovative solutions for the built environment”.

It covers seven key themes of air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Air accounts for technologies that cater for VOC reduction, air infiltration management, ventilation and air quality monitoring, while light covers automated shading and daylight modelling.

To meet the WELL Silver requirements, Landsec implemented a variety of new services and systems and changed the entire working environment at 100 Victoria Street. A juice bar and free healthy snacks are available in a “social hub” and shower rooms have been provided to encourage people to cycle to work. Roof gardens and spaces within the surrounding Cardinal Place also provide people with opportunities to eat away from their desks.

As the office is on one floor, people are more able to speak face-to-face. This has resulted in a 18% reduction in internal emails sent. A 65% reduction in printing was also achieved by people using the largest Microsoft Surface Hub Screen installation in the UK, which allows for quick connectivity and removes the need for paper in meetings.

Landsec achieved a 11% saving in net area compared with the previous headquarters – which was spread across eight floors – and 40% fewer fixed desks are onsite. White-noise machines have been placed at strategic locations in open-plan areas to reduce background distractions and increase privacy levels without the need to construct walls. Quiet rooms, soundproof booths and a library for health and wellbeing information have also been fitted.

The new headquarters maximises access to natural light, while artificial lighting matches the behaviour of the surroundings and changes to mimic the time of day. As for air quality, higher levels of fresh air, specification for materials, glues, paints and varnish to completely remove harmful chemicals was insisted on.

Furniture provider Hunters Contracts was tasked with assessing the supply chain early on to determine which companies could meet both WELL and BREEAM standards regarding responsible sourcing. Although WELL restricted the choice of furniture suppliers, it did help improve air quality standards for the lifecycle of the project. Hunters Contracts also employed a procurement specialist to engage with sub-suppliers over VOC information.

The costs

Although an investment cost isn’t disclosed, less than 3% of the project costs were attributed to meeting WELL Certification and BREEAM Outstanding levels. These fees were associated with consultancy costs and waste management processes.

Landsec’s sustainability special projects manager Edward Dixon did suggest that the new office would enable higher work productivity among stuff, which could lead to more revenue being generated as a result.

Staff feedback found the more than 90% of staff feel the new workplace has had a positive impact on workplace culture, while 88% believe it enables more work productivity – which is 21% higher than the national average and a 20% increase on the previous office.

The future

Landsec used their own headquarters to create a blueprint for how companies can retrofit towards both BREEAM and WELL Standards. If clients ask for implementation advice, Landsec can now provide concrete evidence of what processes can work and what new systems will need to be introduced.

Matt Mace

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