Sustainable building aims to adopt practices for the design, construction and management of buildings using environmentally friendly and resource-efficient materials, energy sources and processes. The creation of the so-called “Green Buildings” began in the 1980s thanks to the announcement of the concept of sustainability by the United Nations World Commission up to the adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

A revolutionary step took place in the 1990s with the birth of building certifications based on standards, codes and classification systems aimed at creating eco-structures with low environmental impact, capable of promoting healthy spaces. Adopted on a voluntary basis, they made it possible to determine the level of environmental performance of a structure, whether newly built or to be renovated The analysis examine the techno-constructive characteristics but also included investigations of the surrounding context, including site selection, the theme of transport, water and energy efficiency, as well as waste management.

New trends: from Green Building to Healthy Building

The certifications were born to optimize the performance of buildings. Nowadays they are no longer limited to the collection and display of data to measure the environmental impact and the conditions of the building but require the detection of a large and vast amount of information for the creation of spaces safer, healthier, more comfortable and productive according to scientific evidence aimed at promoting the health and well-being of the occupants.

For companies, it means creating a productive and favorable working environment for employees, where the exceptional and innovative performance of buildings is designed according to criteria of human and environmental health and equity.

This trend was emphasized with the arrival of the pandemic, which helped to further underline the need to design healthy interior spaces to ensure the well-being of the occupants and their re-entry, thus limiting the spread of diseases and boosting productivity and the comfort of people.

The strength of the certification programs for buildings lies in an evaluation system based on tests and verified performances, where the concepts examined (e.g. air, water, nutrition, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, ..) they are factors chosen on the basis of a careful integration between scientific and health research, medicine and environmental science.

Each of these factors must be controlled and managed during the design, construction/renovation and maintenance phases of the structure, so that virtuous behavioral rules are also defined that further improve the standards of health and sustainability of the building.

The benefits of building design and management according to a human-centric vision

The benefits of building design and management according to a human-centric vision have also been validated by a study published in the Journal of Building and Environment: “Impact of WELL Certification on Occupant Satisfaction and Perceived Health, Well-Being and Productivity: a multi -office pre versus post occupancy evaluation.

According to the survey, WELL Certification has a positive impact on occupants in terms of:

  • Job satisfaction.
  • Mental and physical health.
  • Well-being and productivity.

The data collected were processed from pre and post employment surveys on a sample of 1,300 employees of 6 different North American companies.

The results of the survey highlighted statistically significant benefits for the occupants of WELL certified buildings. In fact, we are talking about:

  • An improvement of nearly 30% in overall job satisfaction.
  • A 26% increase in well-being.
  • A 10% increase in productivity.
  • An improvement in mental and physical health of 10 and 2 percentage points, respectively.

Health and wellness

The presence of pleasant environments, which grant optimal living spaces and encourage the link between nature and the human being, improves psychophysical health. In fact, the occupants recognize that they live in a serene working environment, coming to feel more energetic and motivated at work. Companies gain tangibly in terms of productivity, engagement, loyalty and talent attraction. According to the study, occupants perceive a clear improvement in mental and physical health in WELL certified buildings, a value quantified in 10% in the first case and 2% in the second.

Pre- and post-certification data indicate a shift from 41.7% to 51.7% for mental well-being and from 53% to 55.1% for physical well-being.


There are clear metrics that show a correlation between the characteristics of workplace and the increased of productivity. The certified buildings, thanks to the offer of comfortable and healthy spaces, as well as the promotion of an organizational culture based on employee well-being, have shown an improvement in productivity ranging from 1.39 to 6.72%.

The survey also notices a greater presenteeism of the occupants. Responding to the health and work performance questionnaire of the World Health Organization (HPQ), the employees of WELL buildings stated that they have a psychological propensity to stay at work, an indication of a better company climate also due to an optimization of health emotional and cognitive. Fewer absences were therefore recorded, which lead to company and social security savings, as well as a reduction in personnel and skills turnover.

Overall satisfaction

The design of the building must not be an end in itself . Every effort made to realize healthy and comfortable spaces must be communicated to the occupants, who are also involved in the initiatives so that the highest levels of quality of life standards are achieved.

Communication should not be underestimated because it helps people to perceive the value of such programs and strengthen the sense of belonging to the company, especially when improvements in health and well-being occur.

The overall occupants of WELL buildings job satisfaction is 30% higher than in the pre-certification period.

Read the study “Impact of WELL Certification on Occupant Satisfaction and Perceived Health, Well-Being and Productivity: a multi-office pre versus post occupancy evaluation” published in the Journal of Building and Environment.


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