Global real estate investors focus on health and wellness, as an investment strategy across office,
residential, retail and other building types.
As real estate investors increasingly demand healthy buildings,
according to the largest health and wellness study of global property investment managers ever conducted.
This study was coordinated by global real estate group BentallGreenOak (BGO),
the United Nations Environment Program Funding Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Center for Non-Profit Active Design (CfAD).
Titled “New Investor Consensus: The Rising Demand for Healthy Buildings”,
it shows that the global real estate industry is responding to demand for buildings that support measurable health indicators.
Most of the survey respondents are located in North America and Europe,
but they also manage real estate assets in Asia and the Middle East.
The report certainly appears relevant to the Middle East markets, including Saudi Arabia, with its burgeoning trade and hospitality sectors.
A healthy building helps maintain the health of its occupants.
Developers and designers can improve buildings for people’s health and safety through a combination of siting,
design and operation strategies that significantly improve indicators of physical, social and mental health.
Some of these methods are familiar, others are based on emerging technologies.
It would not be surprising that access to daylight, rest areas, fitness and meditation rooms,
and prayer are considered “healthy” features.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is also an increased focus on hygiene and improved cleaning, and engineering upgrades are needed to increase fresh air circulation.
This is done through high-performance aeration systems and to support indoor and outdoor cultivation, preferably using recycled water.
Active design principles also call for visible, naturally lit staircases, as a healthy alternative to riding an elevator.
While some developers are going to have their properties certified as healthy buildings by external certification systems.
Among the most widely adopted is Fitwel, a center for active design of evidence-based strategies that promote positive health outcomes for occupants and communities.
Feasibility study for health buildings
The health building feasibility study is growing in markets all over the world, and global capital flows and rental rates in recent years, indicate an increased demand for certified health buildings.
Specifically, approved health buildings received rent premiums from 4.4 to 7.0% compared to their standard counterparts.
The argument goes that companies that operate such buildings benefit from improved employee satisfaction and increased productivity, as well as lower absenteeism and lower employee turnover rates.
Indeed, the commercial rationale for healthy buildings relates to social and environmental benefits.
Healthy workplaces improve employee productivity and retention, and active buildings and communities deliver societal benefits that far exceed their costs.”
Architecture for health
Data arising from healthy buildings is important not only to real estate investors and developers, but also to the architects, engineers, interior designers and landscape architects tasked with creating these spaces.