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Mindful : February 2019
those occupying the space, be it for an eight-hour shift or just a few random minutes. The exterior, for example, boasts a two-lane drive-through topped with solar panels that, according to the store manager, provide about 90% of the building’s electricity. Atop the bank is a living green roof of maturing sedum plants, which helps oxygen- ate the neighborhood. Two adjacent metal grids affixed to an exterior wall support a towering web of flowering ivy each spring and summer, which effectively releases stormwater from the roof and, as a bonus, adds an appealing counterpoint to a suburban panorama otherwise dominated by 12 stories of red and tan brick. Like the ASID space, the bank’s interior is long on elements tailored for employee well-being: The drink- ing water is purified, the air is free of noxious building materials or cleaning supplies, the tall windows and circa- dian lighting systems help boost and maintain concentration throughout the workday. In addition, vivid waist- to-ceiling murals of drooping leaf- covered tree branches splash across two adjoining walls, a welcoming nod to the physical, mental, and behav- ioral benefits that may be realized by contact simply with images of nature. Plaques scattered throughout the bank provide customers with tips about optimum thermal comfort and proper hydration (a water-bottle fill- ing station is near the teller counter); an intimate café space includes a Well- ness Resources Library with back- ground about the WELL certification process and healthy lifestyle changes. Free coffee is provided, but non- dairy creamers, typically laden with hydrogenated vegetable-based fats, have been banned from the premises. (Highly processed foods are frowned on in a feature of the WELL Nourish- ment concept.) Unlike the aging TD location I usu- ally patronize, which was acquired in a late-2007 merger, the design, details, and employee energy of this new WELL-certified operation cre- ate a noticeably more positive and → of specific, often technical, bench- marks in each of the 10 concepts of building design and performance, as well as occupant health (the maiden version of WELL included fewer such requirements across only seven major categories). These 10 concepts (see sidebar on page 70) include good indoor air quality; policies that encourage fitness, proper nutrition, and the consumption of clean drink- ing water; lighting that doesn’t dis- rupt natural body rhythms; thermal comfort and strategies to cut down on noise; and the use of products and materials that don’t pollute or con- taminate a building’s interior. In addition, WELL Version 2 added a focus on community—a set of features that prioritizes volunteerism and other forms of civic engagement, along with organization-wide access to the likes of generous support for new parents and family caregivers. But the greatest changes to the revamped WELL standard are found in the Mind concept, which lays out a detailed set of design and policy strategies to positively influence the cognitive and emotional well-being of those occupying a space. For example, there is a feature that mandates training for stress man- agement and work–life balance as a means of heading off burnout. Other features address mental health sup- port along with affordable treatments for substance abuse and addiction. In addition, certification requires gener- ous policies related to promoting healthy sleep, granting ample time away from the office, and integrat- ing nature and natural elements into the office. Finally, this section of the WELL Building Standard calls for providing free or low-cost programs of mindful movement, such as yoga or tai chi classes, or devising strategies to encourage mindfulness medita- tion: offering an eight-week course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, for instance, or furnishing access to a quiet, calm space where a building’s occupants might join a g uided medi- tation program. “There’s great research behind mindfulness training and the impact it can have on stress levels and well- being and sleep,” says Emily Winer, IWBI’s mind concept lead. “It has a spillover effect—you feel a little better after you meditate, you relax and it informs your whole day. Then that continues to inform your whole life and how you interact with people. I felt strongly it should be a part of WELL Version 2. There are ways you can design a space to help people get to that frame of mind. It may help cre- ate a sense of calmness, allowing you to be more present with your mind- fulness practice.” Doing Good by Doing WELL The TD Bank in Bethesda, Maryland, a mile from the District of Columbia line, had its ribbon-cutting in May 2016, and two years later earned the distinction of being the world’s first retail bank location to be granted both LEED and WELL certification. Although the building doesn’t have the bowl-you-over optics of the ASID headquarters, it nevertheless offers a telling look at how structures of any sort may one day be designed to benefit both the surrounding environment and Certification requires generous policies promoting healthy sleep, ample time away from the office, and integrating nature and natural elements into the office. February 2019 mindful 71 well-being