CBRE Receives Vancouver’s First WELL Certification

June 5, 2017 / by Media Centre

CBRE announced that its Vancouver office has achieved WELL Certification at the gold level for New and Existing Interiors by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™). CBRE’s office space is the first to receive the prestigious distinction in Vancouver, awarded based on IWBI’s WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™), the premier building standard to focus on enhancing employees’ health and wellness through the built environment.

CBRE occupies four floors of Oxford Properties’ MNP Tower, located at 1021 West Hastings Street. In order to receive WELL Certification, the office was assessed, monitored and tested across seven wellness categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The office space incorporates more than 100 wellness features, including universal access to natural light for all employees, ergonomic sit-stand desks and noise-attenuating technology to reduce stress-inducing background noise.

“Our decision to be first-movers in pursuing this pioneering certification reflects our belief that the office environment can, and should, add to the health of your people, and that true market leadership is about taking bold steps for the future. Thirty years ago, we brought the open-concept office to our industry across Canada and, today, we again break new ground by creating one of the first workplaces in the country to actively promote employee health and wellness,” said Mark Renzoni, President and CEO of CBRE Canada.

Dubbed ‘the next frontier in workplace design’, CBRE is helping to pioneer the adoption of the WELL Building Standard in Canada. The company is responsible for four out of the first 10 projects in Canada to register for WELL Certification, making it the first Canadian firm to embrace the new standard across multiple locations.

“The investment in human capital is top of mind for all employers. When employee salaries represent 60-70% of overhead small investments to create engaging workplaces can have significant impacts on talent retention and recruitment. Since 2015 in offices that have undergone our workplace transformation, we have seen our total employee turnover rate fall by almost a third and, in the same period, we’ve doubled our hiring rate of new talent,” said Ashley O’Neill, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at CBRE Canada.

“Not only is WELL Certification helping to differentiate us as an employer that is prepared to invest in the health and wellness of its people, but, as it represents the leading edge of office design, it’s also differentiating us as a commercial real estate advisor.”

In order to receive WELL Certification, CBRE’s Vancouver office was assessed, monitored and tested across seven wellness categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The office space was designed to incorporate over 100 wellness features including:

  • Internal air quality which is within the top 1% of offices globally, and better than most homes. As a result, over 90% of CBRE Vancouver employees have reported a noticeable improvement in air quality.
  • Universal access to natural light, with no employee sitting more than 25 feet from windows with views. A Northwestern University study has shown that offices workers with access to natural light sleep better and for longer, and report markedly better results in quality-of-life assessments.
  • All employees have ergonomic sit-stand desks to reduce sedentary behavior and alleviate lower back pain. Surveyed after the move, nine out of 10 CBRE Vancouver employees reported feeling more energetic as a result of using sit-stand desks.
  • To increase physical activity, an internal stairway connects all four floors, meaning employees must use the stairs to travel across different floors and collaborate with colleagues.
  • To create acoustic comfort, white noise diodes are installed throughout the office to dampen background noise, a key cause of stress and distraction for office workers.
  • Carbon-filtered water is provided within 30 metres of workstations to encourage better hydration.
  • A central lunchroom, the RISE Café, encourages staff to take a break from their desks to eat together. Studies show that adding a social aspect to eating inspires healthier food choices, and reduced-sized plates are provided in the Café to assist with portion control.

“Given that most Canadians spend over half of their waking hours in an office, employers can have a sizeable impact on their employee’s health by focusing on wellness in the workplace. There is a sound business case for investing in a workplace that embraces a human-centric approach to office design. The office continues to evolve from simply being a place where your staff congregates to complete their tasks into a powerful tool for attracting and retaining the best talent,” said Loren Bergmann Managing Director of Workplace Strategy, Western Canada, at CBRE Canada.

“Furthermore, when you design an office space with employee wellness in mind, you’re impacting 100% of the people that work in that space. The ability to positively impact all of your employees far surpasses other corporate wellness programs, such as subsidized gym memberships, which only typically has a 15% participation rate.”