Arup wears multiple hats in pursuit of WELL Gold Certification

Arup is a massive global firm that specializes in complex projects in the built environment. With a team of consultants, engineers and technical specialists covering a myriad of niches, the firm is able to handle all kinds of challenges big and small.

The company had a chance to demonstrate that cross-functionality at one of its own facilities in Boston, which recently became the first WELL Gold Certified building in New England, and only the 14th globally. Building Enclosure has more:

“Arup’s WELL Certified Gold award demonstrates outstanding healthy building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, chairman and CEO of IWBI. “IWBI’s mission is to bring human health and wellness to the forefront of building practices globally, and it is leaders in the building industry like Arup that are helping to advance this movement.”

The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research. It identifies 105 performance metrics, design strategies, and procedures that can be implemented by owners, operators, and the design team to improve indoor environmental quality. Arup’s Boston office earned the distinction based on seven categories of building performance: air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind. To be awarded WELL Certification by IWBI, Arup underwent rigorous testing and a final evaluation carried out by Green Business Certification Inc. to ensure it met all WELL Certified Gold performance requirements.

Arup was not simply a passive client in the process, and in fact the firm supplied structural engineering, WELL consulting, commissioning, lighting design and acoustics. One of the new building’s more intriguing health features includes lighting based on Circadian patterns to align with the sun’s movement during the day.

Other health-centric features include “active design” in the space planning to combat sedentary habits, occupancy-triggered ventilation optimization and avoidance of certain materials to promote greater indoor air quality, and special filtration to improve the quality of drinking water.

What’s the Point?

Years ago, I was part of the team that helped deliver San Diego’s very first LEED certified project. At the time, nobody knew what LEED was, nor did anyone particularly care, up until the point where the local utility handed us a 7-figure check related to energy savings.

Saving money on energy expenditures is nice, sure, but WELL focuses on occupant health. As occupant health becomes more of a priority in future building projects, firms like Arup that have direct experience in implementing such strategies will be much more in demand than ever before.

The Arup Boston office serves as a living laboratory to test its own wellbeing approaches to help quantify the impact of health and wellbeing strategies. The assessment includes a WELL-focused pre and post occupancy survey developed with in house environmental psychologists, as well as a custom-designed indoor environmental quality sensor kit built by Arup programmers to stream real-time data.

Clearly, Arup isn’t just looking to hang a plaque on the wall.


Image courtesy Arup’s LinkedIn page. Arup was the lead engineering consultant on the temporary Echelman sculpture installation over Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway in 2015.