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Sunday 22 October 2017
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05 Jul 2017
Wellness Architecture Initiative hosts inaugural roundtable

Wellness continues to infiltrate industries and disciplines, and now is gaining traction in the architecture, engineering, and construction fields.

With spa and wellness clients searching for authenticity in their experiences, it stands to reason that they are going to start looking deeper than the service menu or room décor. Millennials, especially, are seeking businesses that demonstrate a commitment to myriad social issues, including the environment, sustainable business practices, and the creation of healthy work environments.

Last week, the Global Wellness Institute’s Wellness Architecture Initiative held its first global roundtable discussion at the headquarters of architecture, furniture and technology company Steelcase in New York City, which was attended by several dozen architects and designers from far-flung locales.

Initiative chair Veronica Schreibeis Smith, CEO and founding principal of US-based Vera Iconica Design, created an agenda that looked at the shifts in demand for wellness design, what meaningful results we’re seeing in enhancing health and wellbeing through design, and how the industry can move the conversation forward.

The roundtable discussion was made up of 15 participants, all experts in some aspect of architecture, engineering or design, and was moderated by Smith.

Many architects and engineers are thinking about ways to design and create buildings that make wellness more accessible to the mainstream, and there is already a quantity of research and information available to share.

Panel participants reported that clients today are increasingly interested in incorporating biophilic design principles and green walls, and there is a growing awareness of indoor air quality, awareness of light and its effect on people, and the need to avoid electromagnetic radiation. One designer commented, “We forget how much influence we have with every client and community contact where there is engagement.”

Businesses are starting to think holistically, across functions and industry, in both the public and private sector. From mayors of cities to parents of special-needs children, the number of inquiries into wellness design is increasing, the panel agreed.

From a financial standpoint, businesses are starting to see that environments created with wellness in mind are a way to differentiate themselves – as well as a way to increase ROI by keeping tenants longer.

But there was consensus that there is still some way to go to make the economics work, and a need to translate awareness of the opportunity into a widespread commitment. Government and regulatory bodies need to become involved, the panel agreed – the fact that wellness makes us feel good isn’t compelling enough to create regulations.

However, progress is being made; in the US, Fannie Mae, one of the biggest government-lending housing agencies, just launched its Healthy Housing Rewards initiative, which provides a financial incentive for healthy design features in newly constructed affordable rental properties. The first phase provides a pricing break for borrowers who incorporate design features that improve air quality, encourage physical activity, and incorporate common space, community gardens and playgrounds into their projects.

Panel participants explored how to elevate the conversations about emotional and spiritual aspects of wellness in design, which for now is mostly the realm of academic research. The key seems to be measurement; with organisations like Steelcase and Delos starting to measure social interactions and outcomes in wellness-designed spaces, there will be more support for the concept of wellness design as more data becomes available. Wearable technology can measure people’s reactions to wellness design by measuring heart rate or skin response, and seeing positive outcomes in places like hospitals and prisons with intentional design will also help the cause.

The roundtable also included individual presentations from Sally Augustin, PhD and principal of Design With Science, a firm that conducts studies and uses research to guide design principles; Paula Baker LaPorte, FAIA, a founder of EcoNest Homes, a designer and builder of natural and non-toxic structures; and James Brewer, workspace consultant at Steelcase, who showed a comparison of LEED, Fitwel, Well Building, and the Living Building Challenge – four of the current leaders in wellness architecture guidelines.

The afternoon was spent in several workshops, with all of the attendees gathering into groups to discuss topics such as defining wellness architecture, measuring and metrics, and identifying other industries that can positively influence wellness architecture.





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20 Oct 2017
Szekely receives inaugural Living a Well Life award at 95 years young
Industry icon Deborah Szekely has been presented with the inaugural Living a Well Life Award, for embodying wellness principles and practices throughout her life.
20 Oct 2017
Dr Richard Carmona receives GWS Social Impact Award
Dr Richard Carmona – the 17th surgeon general of the US and chief of health innovation for wellness destination Canyon Ranch – received the Global Wellness Summit’s Social Impact Award for his commitment to expand access to health and wellness to people around the world.
19 Oct 2017
WAZA and UN team up to tackle environmental problems
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has signed an agreement with the United Nations (UN) in order to better combat marine litter, coral reef pollution and the illegal trade of species around the world.
18 Oct 2017
ISPA launches new global workforce study
The International SPA Association (ISPA) Foundation announced the launch of a new spa workforce study at the 2017 ISPA Conference & Expo being held at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas this week.
18 Oct 2017
IAAPA supporting Give Kids the World at 2017 expo
Give Kids the World Village – a cost-free resort for children with life threatening illnesses – will enter its 22nd year in partnership with IAAPA at the organisation’s annual expo, with a number of initiatives and events lined up for this year’s show.
16 Oct 2017
Harmsworth receives ISPA Visionary Award
Sue Harmsworth, chair and founder of ESPA International, was awarded the ISPA Visionary Award this morning (16 October) at the International Spa Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas.
16 Oct 2017
ISPA attendees donate to Las Vegas first responders
Delegates at the ISPA conference at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas have started collecting donations for those who were first to respond to the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
16 Oct 2017
Bounce founder named top franchisor at Best Business Women Awards
Kimberlee Perry, founder of trampolining fitness group Bounce, has been named as the UK’s Best Franchisor at the Best Business Women Awards 2017.
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Diary dates
07-29 Oct 2017
Dynamic Reformer Course
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20 Oct - 12 Nov 2017
World Leisure Expo
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ASTC 2017 Annual Conference
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Sports Education Conference
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Professional Beauty North
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The International Congress of Esthetics and Spa - Miami
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17th Annual IHRSA European Congress
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4th Annual IHRSA / Mercado Fitness Mexico City Conference & Trade Show
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28-31 Oct 2017
SPATEC Middle East
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30 Oct 2017
MuseumNext Tech
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Germany
01-02 Nov 2017
IOG Saltex
NEC
Birmingham
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01-03 Nov 2017
HI Design Asia: Hotel Interior Design: The Decision Makers' Forum
The Grand Hyatt
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Indonesia
02 Nov 2017
Football Business Awards
Tobacco Dock
London
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03-04 Nov 2017
ARCHITECT@WORK - Turkey
Istanbul Expo Center
Istanbul
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