By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor
Four years after CBRE’s global headquarters in downtown Los Angeles became the first WELL-Certified office, the commercial real estate services firm has attempted the healthy-office frontier again. CBRE’s approximately 30,000-square-foot Vancouver office recently attained gold-level WELL Certification for New and Existing Interiors, becoming the first in the City of Vancouver to achieve the designation, which centers on supporting employees’ health and wellness through the built environment.
“For us, our pursuit of WELL Certification is not only differentiating us as an employer that is prepared to invest in the health and wellness of its people, but also as a leading commercial real estate advisor. By undertaking the process ourselves, we’re in a much more informed position to advise our clients about its benefits, its costs and the complexities involved,” Ashley O’Neill, vice president of corporate strategy at CBRE Canada, told Commercial Property Executive.
CBRE debuted its Vancouver digs in 2015, taking four floors in the MNP Tower, a 35-story office building developed at 1021 W. Hastings St. by Oxford Properties the same year. The company ushered the open-office concept into Canada three decades ago. CBRE endeavored to make employee well-being a centerpiece of the Vancouver location’s workplace design. To meet the requirements for gold-level WELL, CBRE incorporated more than 100 wellness features into the Vancouver office space. The long list of attributes includes widespread access to natural light; ergonomic sit-stand desks; noise-attenuating technology; and a high level of indoor air quality.
CBRE has three additional offices registered for WELL Certification in Canada, but the firm’s pursuit of workplace wellness doesn’t end there. CBRE initiated a new company goal last year, challenging itself to seek WELL Certification for a minimum of 100 of its managed or associated properties around the world. In the process, office users and owners have been jumping on the bandwagon.
“Our pursuit of WELL Certification has generated huge levels of interest among our clients. Most leading companies now inherently understand that the office is no longer just a bottom line cost, but a powerful tool in the attraction and retention of the best talent,” O’Neill said.
“When you also combine the fact that, as a general rule, more people are becoming increasingly committed to living more active and healthier lifestyles, WELL Certification is at the intersection of two very powerful trends. This is truly at the leading edge of office design, so both tenants and landlords have approached us to understand what WELL Certification can do to help them to attract talent or entice tenants to their buildings,” she concluded.