Developers Adopting WELL Building Standard

Office Market

Green or sustainability accreditation is now a pre-requisite for the successful development, letting and management of office projects at the higher end of the market, with regional office developers having common development policies across CEE and Western Europe.

Nordic Light

Developers have now become increasingly concerned with interiors and the perceived wellbeing of staff in office centers, and are beginning to seek WELL accreditation in addition to BREEAM and LEED certification.  

Sustainability-accredited, and imaginatively designed, office interiors are now regarded as necessary for the improved performance and retention of staff: with a lack of skilled labor, the demands of employees increasingly have to be taken into account. Exterior and interior elements are increasingly part of the integrated design, construction, and property management phases of office developments. Currently three projects in Budapest are WELL pre-certified.

The Washington-based International WELL Building Institute’s system examines the impact of buildings on the human body in terms of health and wellbeing and rates buildings based on seven categories: air; water; healthy nourishment; natural light; fitness; comfort; and mental freshness. The IWBI’s building standard thus aims to create offices that have a beneficial impact on the health, well-being and comfort of employees in addition to environmental protection.

Employee Focus

The demographic outlook and the current tight situation on the labor market in Hungary and Central Europe is causing employers to focus more on their employees with an aim to provide the work environment that will support productivity and well-being of their people.

“As such, tenants are evaluating which location will be most suitable for their current and future employees, how to structure office space in order to decrease noise, what is the infrastructure in the building or in the vicinity, from gastronomic to fitness choices, including additional services such as laundry collection or electrical cars sharing,” commented Blanka Vackova, head of office agency at JLL in Czech Republic.

In Budapest the household appliances company Electrolux has set up its new 1,700 sqm Hungarian headquarters in the LEED “Gold” and BREEAM “Very Good” 25,000 sqm Promenade Gardens on the so-called Váci Corridor. The new tenant emphasized the attractiveness of the interior, designed by DVM, in its choice. The complex has been sold by the developer, Horizon Development to the Hungarian Erste Real Estate Fund.

“I consider it a great success to have been able to conclude a mutually beneficial contract with Horizon Development in the state-of-the-art, dual certified sustainable building they developed. Our new, healthy workspaces will contribute to the wellbeing of our employees and increase both individual and team efficiency,” commented András Tamássy, general manager, sales area south CEE at Electrolux.

“The business driver of the Electrolux office relocation was to find a real estate solution that primarily represents Electrolux’s brand but also supports employee empowerment. The quality and architectural value of Promenade Gardens is a significant upgrade for Electrolux that better reflects the brand and its core corporate values,” said Kata Mazsaroff, head of occupier services at Colliers International, who worked with the tenant on the deal.

With regard to the first WELL registered developments in Budapest, Skanska is developing the third 14,000 sqm phase of the Nordic Light office complex to meet the WELL Building Standard.

Swedish Hospitality

“Employee wellbeing was also at the forefront when designing Nordic Light Trio and this will be our first office project in Hungary to receive WELL certification. The office complex will be completed with this last phase, which, with its warm and comfortable lobby, will provide an experience into Swedish hospitality and offers an inspiring and stimulating space for productive discussions,” said Marcin Łapiński, managing director of Skanska Property Hungary.

According to Skanska, the building will provide a 2,400 sqm of landscaped garden, also open to the public, bicycle storage facilities, changing rooms and charging stations for electric cars. In its latest deal in Prague Skanska is expected to receive LEED “Platinum” and WELL “Core & Shell” certifications for the 23,000 sqm Visionary office building in Prague 7.

In another WELL pre-certified project, Futureal Group is undertaking development of its largest Budapest office project to date, the 65,000 sqm Budapest One Business Park. The first phase of the WELL “Building Platinum” pre-certified complex is scheduled to be delivered in the first half of 2019 and will offer 25,000 sqm of office space and 2,600 sqm of commercial and service space.

The complex, designed by Paulinyi-Reith & Partners Architectural Studio, will include a 5,000 sqm open interior green area, meditation room, green roof garden, bicycle storage facilities with showers, nanotechnology car wash, rooftop running track and electric car charging facilities.

“In Hungary we have a good base for WELL buildings, because with reasonable focus we can fulfill the requirements of clean air and water preconditions and optimizations,” says Regina Kurucz, an architect and WELL building energy assessor.

“The Hungarian culture is open for changes in nourishment and movement activities. According to my view, a big challenge will be to convince offices of the need for quiet spaces for relaxation and private phone calls. Relaxing areas help to reduce stress and improve work quality. The WELL Building Standard can help companies to attract and keep the best workforce. I think this is an invaluable accomplishment when the workforce is scarce,” Kurucz concludes.

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