Healthy LA Office of BuroHappold Engineering Receives Top Wellness Standard Certification

Creative engineering firm BuroHappold’s highly sustainable Los Angeles offices, designed for employee health, have been awarded WELL Certified™ Gold, a leadership designation given by the International WELL Building Institute.

BuroHappold Engineering, a world-class, global practice creating solutions for buildings and cities, has announced that the global firm’s offices at 800 Wilshire Boulevard have been awarded a top rating under a prestigious voluntary building standard aimed at promoting human health and wellbeing. The distinction – awarded through the International WELL Building Institute’s premier standard for enhancing people’s health and wellness where they live, work and play – recognizes BuroHappold’s Los Angeles workplace as an exceptional environment for its employees. The award adds to its rating as a highly sustainable facility, recently certified for the U.S. Green Building Council’s top LEED ratings. An exceptional environment for its 65 employees, the BuroHappold office demonstrates how to deliver a low energy, environmentally sustainable headquarters that focuses on health and wellness and offers ample spaces full of daylight and outdoor views.

The BuroHappold offices have earned Gold-level Certification under the WELL Building Standard™, known as WELL v1, a rigorous benchmark developed by the International WELL Building Institute, or IWBI. The criteria for the Gold-level designation are based on workplace design and performance metrics in seven categories: Air, Water, Light, Nourishment, Fitness, Comfort and Mind. Previously awarded LEED v3 Platinum and LEED v4 Gold certifications in recognition of sustainable design, the energy-efficient workplace supports occupant health and wellness by providing employees with spaces that enjoy abundant access to natural daylight and exterior views, clean air, filtered water, a comfortable indoor climate, and workspaces that support active lifestyles.

“Reflecting BuroHappold’s commitment to high-performance design, we’ve considered not only the environment and our collective contribution to climate change, but also the human health aspect of our workplace,” says Kathleen Hetrick, a sustainability engineer with BuroHappold in Los Angeles. “For lasting impact on the built environment, our goal is to ensure our policies, operations, and even our work environments contribute to better human health and environmental health. Tracking certification under the WELL Building Standard has allowed us to benchmark our current performance and set goals for the coming years.”

BuroHappold’s Los Angeles office achieved WELL Certified™ Gold status by incorporating exceptional features into the workplace environment. To meet stringent water standards, plumbing fixtures in the kitchen and even showers produce filtered water free of organic and inorganic contaminants, public water additives and agricultural contaminants. Beautiful potted fruit trees and a vegetable and herb garden on the offices’ outdoor balconies help achieve a goal of 1 square foot of urban agriculture per workplace occupant while also contributing a desirable connection to nature, known as biophilic design. Collaborating with Omni, the management team for the 800 Wilshire building, project designers from BuroHappold have ensured that all cleaning products are Green Seal® certified as low-VOC-emitting and that air-handling unit filters are replaced on a quarterly basis.

To maintain a comfortable and healthy interior environment, five air-quality sensors continuously monitor office air for invisible fine dust and chemicals as well as temperature and other variables. When adjustments are required, the Awair system automatically alerts staff. To meet WELL’s stringent circadian lighting requirements, which support good human health, measurements of the space and data from simulation testing were used by [BuroHappold] lighting designers to optimize the type and amount of added illumination needed on the office’s south side. Additionally, BuroHappold offers employees standing-desk options, access to DeskCycles – under-desk bikes for light exercise while working – as well as a weekly yoga class and a pantry stocked with healthy, nutritious foods.

With the well-being of employees a top priority for BuroHappold, the design of the Los Angeles office is open and bright. The open-plan offices take full advantage of the top-floor location, ensuring all workstations enjoy natural daylight and views of downtown and the Santa Monica mountains. Automatic shades and daylighting controls allow employees to adjust light levels and prevent glare. A solar film applied to the windows reduces unwanted solar heat gain. Combined, these solutions reduce lighting power density by 43% over a typical office setup. Other sustainability strategies include: plumbing fixtures that cut water usage by 36% over the baseline; phase-change materials to reduce heat gain; comfortable underfloor air-displacement ventilation; onsite organic waste composting; and renewable energy credits purchased to offset 100% of annual electrical consumption by the BuroHappold location.

Designed as a living laboratory for BuroHappold and a demonstration project to inform like-minded clients, the LEED- and WELL-certified offices continually monitor all systems to identify adjustments that may improve performance, while extensive ongoing post-occupancy evaluation ensures the health and wellbeing of its occupants. To be awarded WELL Certification by the International WELL Building Institute, BuroHappold Los Angeles underwent rigorous testing and a final evaluation carried out by Green Business Certification Inc., the third-party certification body for WELL, to ensure it met all WELL Certified™ Gold performance requirements.

Committed to diversity and inclusion, BuroHappold also has a JUST label from the International Living Future Institute, a voluntary disclosure tool that also helped the firm achieve the WELL rating.

About the WELL Building Standard

Created through seven years of rigorous research and development working with leading physicians, scientists, and industry professionals, the IWBI’s WELL Building Standard™ is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research. WELL is grounded in a body of evidence-based research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend approximately 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants of these buildings.

About BuroHappold

BuroHappold Engineering is an international, integrated engineering consultancy operating in 22 locations worldwide, with 60 partners and over 1,700 employees including some of the world’s leading consulting engineers. For over 40 years we’ve been building our reputation for delivering creative, value-led building and city solutions for an ever-changing world.