Colorado Health Foundation’s Office First U.S. Project to be Awarded WELL, LEED v4 Certifications at the Gold Level

The Colorado Health Foundation, Davis Partnership Architects (Davis), Saunders Construction (Saunders) and WSP announced that the Foundation’s new office building in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood has been awarded WELL Certification at the Gold level by the International WELL Building InstituteTM (IWBITM). The project has also achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4 Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building is the first project in the U.S. to be both WELL CertifiedTM Gold and LEED v4 Gold Certified, reflecting the Foundation’s commitment to improve the health of all Coloradans, including employees and those who visit the building.

The WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research. The Foundation’s building earned the distinction based on seven categories of building performance: Air, Water, Light, Nourishment, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.

LEED, which is available for virtually all building, community and home project types, provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. WELL is designed to complement and work seamlessly with green building rating systems such as LEED, aligning health and sustainability outcomes for projects that are certified in both.

The Foundation’s office building, completed in late 2016, was designed by Davis and constructed by Saunders, while WSP provided sustainability and health-oriented design consulting as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering throughout the project.

“The intention behind the building was to create a destination within the community that mirrors the Foundation’s practices of effecting change and increasing awareness of the importance of health,” said David Daniel, principal at Davis Partnership Architects. At the start of the project, Davis outlined several guiding principles for the project, including the intention that every person and entity involved with the project would strive to comprehensively improve the health of those who create, occupy and engage with the facility over its lifetime. With that in mind, Davis targeted both WELL Certified Gold and LEED v4 Gold certification from the inception of the project.

“Saunders Construction was honored to build this health-centered building for the Colorado Health Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to improve the health of Coloradans, especially those with less power or privilege. Saunders and all construction partners set out to make an impact with our workforce as our industry is historically one of the highest health risks and behaviors. This mission aligns so well with our Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, eight years in the making, by educating all construction professionals on healthy lifestyle tips, offering wholesome food options and rewarding healthy behaviors as we collectively walked over 44 million steps,” said Justin Cooper, vice president of project development at Saunders.

“Our decision to construct a new office was driven by our desire to create a healthy, sustainable and cost-effective new home for the Foundation’s employees of today and tomorrow. We are excited to help pioneer the healthy building movement in Colorado and beyond, and hope that our efforts inspire others to integrate WELL and LEED certifications into their building projects,” said Foundation Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Rahn Porter. “Most importantly, we are confident that our new building will allow our staff to relentlessly pursue our vision that across Colorado, each of us can say, ‘We have all we need to live healthy lives.’”

The Foundation’s new building incorporates the seven WELL concepts in a variety of ways: All staff desks are within 25 feet of a window, allowing for abundant natural light. A 40-foot living wall in the lobby integrates a variety of plant life while the central staircase encourages physical activity. Two quiet rooms are located away from work areas and are available for mental breaks, nursing mothers or phone calls.

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. The Foundation’s building has an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) that is 46 percent better than a baseline office building. This was achieved by combining passive design approaches (daylighting, massing and operable windows) with an efficient HVAC system, LED lighting and Energy Star appliances. The building is also prepped for future installation of solar panels.

Photos courtesy of Frank Ooms.

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