Melbourne office tower achieves platinum WELL certification

Melbourne CBD office tower becomes the first existing building in Australia to achieve platinum WELL certification.

A Melbourne CBD office tower at 500 Collins Street has become the first existing building in Australia to achieve WELL Certification at the platinum level.

The International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) WELL Building Standard is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research.

Owned by private property group Kamirice, the building was awarded the highest-level certification under the IWBI’s WELL building standard.

Completed in 1973, 500 Collins Street is a 26-storey tower featuring approximately 26,000sqm of net lettable area comprising an office tower with a retail plaza at ground level.

The new certification comes as landlords and tenants are assessing the role of the office since COVID-19, with many looking to reposition their assets to put wellbeing at the core to retain quality tenants.

It comes on the back of a $5 million refurbishment, installing a new end of trip and business lounge, as well as upgrading and testing of air, thermal comfort, ventilation systems and more.

A recent JLL report found that 69 per cent of workers who are ‘highly satisfied’ with their office environment have said they miss working in an office.

The report found that having an ‘outstanding office’ was the primary way to engage employees, with 73 per cent of office workers valuing the office’s impact on ‘human’ values the most.

500 Collins Street earned the distinction based on 10 categories of building performance – air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

To achieve this, the building underwent rigorous testing on its air quality, ventilation, thermal and acoustic comfort, and water systems.

Other initiatives include the use of non-toxic cleaning products, mindful eating promotion through healthy vending machines and the creation of an online tenant portal to share nutritious recipes and promote mental health.

Mark Ross, managing director of Kamirice, said that COVID-19 has led businesses to re-evaluate employee’s expectations of the workplace and that this achievement demonstrates a commitment to tenant wellbeing, creating better workplaces and encouraging workers to return to their offices.

“500 Collins Street sets a benchmark in how existing office buildings can be transformed to lead the way in workplace health and wellbeing, for both small and large tenants alike,” said Ross.

“It shows how an older existing building in which investment has been consistent and focussed, and which has been upgraded over the years, was in a position to achieve WELL Platinum Certification. By putting tenant health and wellbeing first, we were able to invest where it really mattered.”

WELL also recognised the building’s recent multi-million-dollar upgrades which includes a high-quality end-of-trip facility, featuring bicycle parking, showers and lockers, and a new ground floor business lounge, both designed by Gray Puksand.

“When we undertook the refurbishment of the communal areas, wellness was at the forefront of our decision making. With the help of our exceptional building property management team, we were able to execute this strategy and deliver an industry-leading result for our tenants,” said Ross.

Rachel Hodgdon, president and CEO of the IWBI, said the milestone showed an unwavering commitment to creating an environment that always puts tenants first.

“By incorporating WELL strategies into the existing excellent design at 500 Collins Street, Kamirice demonstrated its commitment to people first places no matter the age of the building, and we congratulate them on this achievement,” said Hodgdon.

Kamirice acquired 500 Collins Street in 2002 and following a full upgrade it became the first refurbished office building to achieve a 5-star Green Star Office Design rating in 2007.

This was recognised at the time with the building receiving a number of innovation and sustainability awards. Norman Disney & Young (NDY) provided consulting services throughout.

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