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WELL Building Standard: Access the Outside World

by Chelsea C.

The benefits of being outdoors and enveloped in nature is paramount in many of the 10 WELL Building Standard V2 concepts. The Light concept highlights the benefits of daylight and views of nature. The Air concept encourages testing of fundamental air quality and operable windows. And, the Movement concept rewards spaces with pedestrian and bike friendly streets, active street fronts and pedestrian destinations like plazas, fountains, walking paths and landscaping.

While all of these connections to nature are important, the WELL concept that focus the most on the integration of bringing the outdoors in is the Mind concept, which includes these two features:

Feature M02 Access to Nature requires the integration of nature into the project’s interior and exterior through design elements that support direct access to the outdoor environment through plants, water, light and views. Secondary access is also taken into account by using natural materials, patterns, colors or images.

Feature M09 Enhanced Access to Nature offers further points by increasing these enhancements for landscaped outdoor space, the integration of indoor plants and water features, the availability of views to nature with exterior building openings and the accessibility of green or blue spaces near the project.

The benefits of having access to nature can be achieved through both direct and indirect means such as plants in the office and window views. Researchers hypothesize that access to outdoor green spaces recharges occupants and impacts mental health and wellbeing, and that physiological and emotional changes take place when individuals are exposed to natural settings.

How can we incorporate these WELL principles around nature into our work from home set ups?

  • Bring natural patterns into your workspace. A wood grain desk, leaf-patterned art or stone desk accessories can be ways of incorporating nature in your home office. Seeing natural patterns like wood grain cause our stress levels to fall.
  • Incorporate plants or views of foliage. Surround yourself with plants indoors or views outside to plants and trees. If you can’t be in authentic natural elements, even representational images of nature are helpful to our psyche.
  • Go Outside. If you have the opportunity, talk a walk, eat lunch or take a call outside; schedule nature time just like a meeting.
  • Open windows to hear the sounds of nature. At a low volume, hearing birds chirp or rustling trees engage all senses.
  • Connect with something bigger than ourselves. Reconnecting with nature and the outdoors provides an opportunity to feel connected to something bigger, especially important during stressful times where we feel out of control.