WELL Building Standard: Healthy buildings can reduce the strain on healthcare
David Baggs is the CEO of Global GreenTag, an independent green product ecolabel recognised by the most prominent certification schemes around the world. As a panellist at this year’s DesignBUILD, David is driven to demystify the complex market of rating tools in the long-term to create better and healthier buildings.
What is one of the biggest issues today around creating healthy buildings?
There’s one word for it: awareness. Generally, people have a lack of awareness about the impact of design, and the way material and product selection can impact on their health. A simple place to start is to head to the city and look around – a large percentage of people living and working in buildings are impacted by bad decisions of the architects, designers and builders who have designed and built them. For example, the current aluminum cladding catastrophes are a manifestation of how the industry is not willing to properly research and apply appropriate discipline to the design and construction process.
How does policy help or hinder this?
The problem is that governments are blaming the products, and that’s a shift of responsibility. They fail to see that healthy buildings can actually reduce the strain on healthcare by providing spaces that promote wellness and healthier lifestyles. Another problem is the failure of privatised compliance certification, together with the fixation on lowest possible price, because there is still an assumption that buying sustainable costs more. We think there needs to be an awareness and willingness to not simply deliver the cheapest-at-all-cost, because it is possible to deliver sustainable outcomes for the same cost, that are equally fit for purpose, given there is generally a sacrifice of quality at the lowest price point possible.
What are you currently excited about in the industry?
We are excited by recent rating tools, such as the WELL Building Standard. It’s come in with a bang and we are getting good feedback from it. Consultants are reporting that as a result of WELL, the feedback from the design to manufacturing loop has become closer and that issues are raised proactively, which is a huge step forwards compared to other rating tools that were also launched a couple of years ago. We think it’s a good framework in the way it is aligned with the way our bodies work and how health works. It’s relatable too and this makes it easier to implement.
What is your ideal vision for the future?
We would like to see greater transparency around products in rating tools because, as I have already outlined, products are very complex for most people to grapple with. We know that certification can help both sides save money; for the end user, we can help them to understand and explain product benefits, and for the industry, we can create more cost-efficient, transparent and sustainable practices. We ultimately want to help deliver better – and healthier – buildings in Australia, but let’s demystify products’ impacts, make safety outcomes more robust and demonstrate more effectively how they affect users even in rated buildings and work towards a stronger industry as a result.
About the Author: Annie Reid
Annie Reid is a qualified journalist, professional copywriter and published author with a passion for everything bricks and mortar. For many years, she’s written thousand of stories for newspapers, magazines and clients around the world. Somewhere between the heady buzz of headlines and deadlines, she discovered a niche for creating tailor made content for the property, real estate, architecture and design industries. Annie holds a Bachelor of Arts and is currently studying a Masters in Publishing and Communications, both from the University of Melbourne.