The lines between the green and the healthy building movements are constantly blurring. Developers - especially those in the resi and mixed-use space - are starting to wrap up green and healthy into one beautifully seamless package. And it’s not just happening at one-off buildings anymore. We’re seeing developers apply the same logic to wholesale communities, making the dream of living and working in an exceptionally good neighbourhood a new reality.
The big challenge facing developers now is one of time: masterplan development can take decades but the market and what’s in demand is constantly evolving. So how should developers seeking to build healthy communities go about choosing the best approach? And, more importantly, one that will withstand the vagaries of time?
While what’s right for every project, site and market is unique, we’ve seen from our experience in the field that five tactics standup across all projects – regardless of time and place.
Five findings from the field
- Go big or go home – differentiating your new community in a marketplace where over 50% of new developments tout “wellbeing” amenities, necessitates something special. You’ll need a leading approach and a real commitment to evidence-based research on wellbeing.
- Bring your vision to life –the articulation of what you are trying to achieve and how you’ll measure it forms the basis of a charter and the guiding light for others. This was the case for the BlueCross BlueShield’s award-winning campus in Chatanooga Tennessee, managed by JLL. Here the developers used a 7 point charter to bring together the various master planning goals – including wellbeing – into one holistic approach.
- Be the early bird – if you’re not careful, exceptionally clean air and water can come with a hefty price tag. The good news is that it’s a lot cheaper to design for quality from the beginning than it is to retrofit. So do your tests early and plan accordingly to meet desired health goals and benchmarks.
- Think like a local – certain features while well-intentioned and extremely successful elsewhere can fail in local contexts. For example ventilation and landscaping strategies need to be carefully thought out, with green goals and the local environment in mind. Likewise some health issues resonate with local people more than others. In one Chinese project, customers were so concerned about air quality they gave up smoking in order to live in a place with a superior air filtration system.
- Learn from the best – even if you’re not interested in certification it’s always a good idea to see how your plans stack up against best practice. Luckily there are plenty of standards to draw from, including the ULI’s “Building Healthy Places Toolkit” and Public Health England’s “Spatial Planning for Health”. In fact the International WELL Building Institute™ has just started piloting a new WELL Community Standard™, which is an urban-scale companion to its global WELL Building Standard™. Developments that meet this revolutionary new standard are surely set to stand out?
Article written by Lora Brill and edited by Laura Jockers in JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services team.