International WELL Building Institute Releases Results of Lakehouse Case Study

Lakehouse exterior at night, courtesy of David Lauer Photography.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), the global authority for driving market transformation through healthy buildings, organizations and communities, recently released a case study focused on NAVA Real Estate Development’s (NAVA) Lakehouse, a for-sale mixed-use multifamily residential project in Denver.

As one of the first multifamily residential projects in the U.S. to achieve WELL Certification, Lakehouse’s analysis demonstrated that WELL Certification helped the project stand out in comparison to other developments. The property’s health and wellness-focused design and amenities attracted significant interest, resulting in favorable sales prices for the condos and competitive rent prices for its on-site retail spaces. 

The case study considers the process of WELL Certification through the lens of four concepts within the WELL Building Standard – Air, Light, Nourishment and Fitness (Movement under WELL v2). To fulfill some of the requirements under the Air concept, Lakehouse is equipped with a MERV-13 building air filtration system, which helps support optimal indoor air quality. Additionally, healthy building entrances, with walk-off systems, help to mitigate particle pollution upon entry into the building. In terms of Light, Lakehouse was designed with an exterior façade that is 55% glass, allowing for clear views of Sloan’s Lake, downtown Denver and the Rocky Mountains, as well as helping maximize daylight within the residences and common areas. Floor-to-ceiling low emissivity, performance glass windows also helped increase sunlight in interior spaces, while minimizing heat transmission and visual glare discomfort. 

“It’s exciting to see an organization like NAVA embrace WELL and work so diligently to ensure that residents are benefiting from its evidence-based health and well-being interventions,” said Rachel Hodgdon, president and CEO of IWBI. “By sharing this case study, which highlights NAVA’s own health leadership in the multifamily sector, we’re able share lessons from their experience and inspire others to take their own WELL journey.” 

On Nourishment and Fitness, Lakehouse includes a professionally managed organic urban farm that produces 1,700+- pounds of produce each season, depending on the crop variety, and an indoor wellness center overlooking Sloan’s Lake, which includes a fitness lab for strength training and cardio workouts and a yoga and meditation studio, allowing for year-round programming. 

These four concepts represent a portion of WELL requirements that were leveraged to achieve WELL Certification, a vehicle for buildings and organizations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being. WELL includes a set of strategies—backed by the latest scientific research—that aim to advance human health through design interventions and operational protocols and policies and foster a culture of health and well-being. 

Through a three-year study conducted by Colorado State University’s Institute for the Built Environment (IBE), NAVA found that implementation of WELL features measurably and positively impacted residents’ physical and mental well-being across 36 statistically significant markers. Simultaneously, NAVA set out to better understand how the implementation of WELL Certification impacted its financial returns – and could potentially drive other organizations’ financial returns. 

“At Lakehouse, we had the opportunity to measure both the social and financial impacts of investing in human health and well-being through real estate. We found compelling evidence of a meaningful benefit on both accounts and in ways we had not expected from our initial modeling,” said Brian Levitt, president and co-founder of NAVA Real Estate Development. “We are happy to share our analysis of the financial impact of WELL at Lakehouse with the development community and hope it will provide teams with a replicable model for prioritizing human and environmental health in residential projects everywhere.” 

In conducting its analysis of the economic benefits derived from advancing the evidence-based health strategies in WELL, NAVA developed its own ROI tool that helps provide a fuller picture of these potential financial benefits. From an economic standpoint, a company’s investment in its people is 125x more than it is in energy for a typical building. Based on that data, NAVA’s tool shows that a projected 10% improvement in employee health would translate to an estimated $2.5 million in benefit, while a 10% reduction in energy spending would yield an estimated $20,000 benefit.  

“What we learned through this process is the way that investing in strategies such as WELL Certification that are designed to optimize resident health and well-being can provide a variety of returns across a variety of both social and financial markers which will ideally elevate the perceived value of making design decisions that prioritize our built environment and its occupants, going forward,” added Levitt. 

Download the full Lakehouse case study here.

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