Healthier people through better buildings: University of Winchester flagship West Downs development registered for WELL Certification

10 Oct 2019
Architect's impression of a large open plan teaching space with computer workstations and yellow, green and grey seating

The University of Winchester's flagship West Downs development is among one of the first university projects in the UK to be registered to pursue WELL Certification, an accreditation scheme which recognises buildings that support and advance human health and wellbeing.

Delivered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), the WELL Building Standard (WELL) is a performance-based rating system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that impact human health and wellness in the built environment. The ten concepts of WELL are: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

Features of the West Downs development that boost wellbeing include a contemplation space for practicing mindfulness; healthy food options; access to nature through the courtyard garden; landscaped areas for encouraging outdoor use; and reduced harmful buildings emissions, including air and water testing. In addition, many workstations have adjustable height sit-stand desks.

Currently, there are 215 WELL Certified projects around the world, including seven certified projects in the UK.

Professor Joy Carter CBE, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "WELL is focused on the ways that our buildings and indoor spaces can enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals. Given that we spend as much as 90 per cent of our lives indoors, using our expertise to design better buildings that help our students, staff and visitors thrive is vital.

"I am delighted that the University of Winchester is aiming for Gold WELL Certification, not least because it embodies our values, which include individuals matter, and underlines our mission as the university for social justice and sustainability. This is particularly true given the launch on 1 August of our new Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, which aims to enrich the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and society through teaching and research."

Mark Butt, Major Capital Project Manager at the University of Winchester, who heads up the West Downs project team, said: "The new building at West Downs will be one of the 'greenest' buildings in Winchester and is set to achieve the 'Excellent' rating of the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), which is the benchmark standard for the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings in the UK.

"The link between health and buildings was made many decades ago and is now a fast growing area of interest. As a forward thinking institution, which is recognised for its pioneering work in sustainability, it is right that we use the wellbeing of students, staff and visitors as a key driver alongside sustainable development."

Designed by award-winning Winchester-based architects Design Engine, the building will provide state-of-the-art facilities for learning and teaching. Winchester is the first UK university to secure green finance for campus development, with a £30m loan from Triodos Bank, Europe's leading sustainable bank.

Construction started in January 2018 and the building will open in January 2020. It would be awarded WELL Certification by IWBI after rigorous testing and a final evaluation by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which is the third-party certification body for WELL, to ensure it meets all WELL performance requirements.

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