NEW YORK, April 30, 2020 /3BL Media/ – Health and well-being must be integrated into a broader systems change approach in buildings and cities, alongside net zero carbon and energy efficiency targets, if we are to accelerate the transition to a healthy and sustainable future. This was the overarching message shared by leaders from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) during a special webinar on “Designing for Well-being” hosted by the World Economic Forum.
Led by the Energy and Materials Platform and the Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services Platform, the webinar featured IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi and President Rachel Gutter in conversation with C-suite corporate executives and senior level public officials on the topic of advancing health and well-being in buildings globally. Also joining the discussion were Dr. Jason Hartke, IWBI’s EVP of Advocacy and Policy, and Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, SVP of Research.
This was the first webinar in a new series from the World Economic Forum’s Systemic Efficiency: Transitioning Energy and Buildings initiative. This initiative engages private sector partners as well as national, regional and city government, academia, civil society and alliances and coalitions. The invitation-only webinar series will explore the transition to a more sustainable, resilient and affordable energy and buildings system, and how to maximize the net social and economic value delivered by materials.
Speaking to a group of more than 70 global leaders, Rick Fedrizzi commented on the interconnectedness of human and planetary health. “Building on an existing market infrastructure and a more advanced sustainability movement, IWBI strongly advocates that there’s no choice to be made between planetary and human health. It absolutely has to be both.”
He continued by stating that the “second wave of sustainability” focuses on human performance, and must build on top of the first wave that focused primarily on building performance. The green building movement brought together the energy efficiency market that lowered greenhouse gas emissions of buildings that accelerate climate change, and the WELL Building Standard (WELL) is now repositioning sustainability through a more human-focused lens to advance human health on a global scale.
“Climate change is also a human health issue, from the human costs of a multitude of disasters made even more severe by climate change, to changes in agriculture output, to a related water crisis, and certainly a warming planet that contributes to disease emergence,” Fedrizzi added.
Rachel Gutter shared IWBI’s vision of better buildings, stronger organizations and more vibrant communities that are designed for energy sustainability, human health and well-being: “We understand through findings from the CDC and other renowned entities that our physical and social environments have a greater impact on our state of health than our lifestyle and behaviors, our access to healthcare or even our genetics. Given that we spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors, those environments have a profound impact on our health and well-being.”
Highlighting how these concepts are becoming even more important given the context of COVID-19, Gutter noted the important role that buildings can play in the fight against viruses, and the work of the IWBI Task Force on COVID-19: Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery. “We believe that buildings and those that tend to them can be frontline caregivers in this recovery phase, being able to function in and of themselves as agents of public health,” she said.
The WELL movement has been growing rapidly, as more than 4,100 projects representing more than half a billion square feet of real estate are applying the rating system in nearly 60 countries. The community is thriving as well, with nearly 6,000 WELL APs across 86 countries who have successfully earned the credential.
During the interactive discussion, attendees also touched on aspects of tracking and measuring social sustainability, material health and safety, returns on investment, and the public health benefits associated with delivering energy efficiency in affordable housing.
Rounding out the conversation, Dr. Hartke noted that energy efficiency “has a very strong story to tell as it relates to being a solution for resilience, for health, for grid reliability, and for equity issues.”
About the International WELL Building Institute
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is leading the global movement to transform our buildings, communities and organizations in ways that help people thrive. The WELL v2 pilot is the latest version of its popular WELL Building Standard (WELL), and the WELL Community Standard pilot is a district scale rating system that sets a new global benchmark for healthy communities. WELL is focused exclusively on the ways that buildings and communities, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness. IWBI mobilizes the wellness community through management of the WELL AP credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and wellness everywhere. IWBI is a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative, and helps companies advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the use of WELL. More information on WELL can be found here.
International WELL Building Institute, IWBI, the WELL Building Standard, WELL v2, WELL Certified, WELL AP, WELL, WELL Portfolio, The WELL Conference, the WELL Community Standard and others, and their related logos are trademarks or certification marks of International WELL Building Institute pbc in the United States and other countries.
KEYWORDS: International Well Building Institute, IWBI, WELL Certified, COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic