Castellum is a leading real estate company specialising in new office buildings. It is internationally recognised for its considerable sustainability efforts and is the only Nordic real estate company on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. It was the first company in the Nordics to register for WELL certification with its new development, Eminent, in Malmö, and we are supporting them on this amongst a number of their projects. And since they are keen to lead by example, they’re also looking to apply WELL to all their own regional offices in Sweden. Their Stockholm office was certified in June this year.
Although the quality of the internal environment in Swedish offices is generally very high, WELL adds another dimension which considers the well-being and health of their occupants. WELL goes beyond the technical building systems that are needed for sustainability and building performance, dealing with aspects of the working environment that aren’t specified by employment and environmental regulations and which are harder also to quantify – things like nutrition, physical well-being and mental health, an important area of focus for Sweden and the Nordics in recent years. And when workplace standards are already high, adopting WELL principles adds value for clients in giving them that competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining staff, as well as that extra productivity that we know comes along with satisfied and healthy employees.
As a very people-focused organisation, Castellum’s goal was to create the best possible environment for their staff. Their move into new premises at the top of an existing building provided them with the ideal opportunity to create an environment where the focus was on health and well-being and offering employees choices to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Working with the architect, MEP consultants, the building, HR and facilities managers, and Castellum’s sustainability manager, we went through all the WELL criteria to work out how we could apply them.
The certification only applies to Castellum’s office space, not to the whole building. However, the building, which was built in 2010, is certified according to LEED and Miljöbyggnad (Sweden Green Building Council’s rating scheme), which meant that the technical aspects of WELL, such as air and comfort, including thermal comfort and acoustics, were easy to achieve. In addition, the office benefits from good daylight and great views over Stockholm.
Nutrition was one of our key criteria. Not only is the large dining room furnished and lit to create a homely, welcoming feeling that encourages colleagues to socialise, but we also considered the food they offer, trying to increase the range of healthy options. Information is also available to promote better eating habits.
Fitness and exercise are also priorities. We have fitted out active work stations in a couple of offices where you can use a step machine while you’re on the phone, pedal a stationary bike, use yoga balls or stretch ropes. There’s also a wellness group which organises activities such as running, yoga or table tennis, as well as inviting guests to present on topics such as training, health and nutrition. Castellum is also keen to encourage employees to cycle to work, and provides plenty of lockers and bike tools to supplement the already substantial bike storage room that the building has in its basement, thanks to its LEED certification.
The interior decor incorporates the principles of biophilic design, inspired by the Nordic climate and natural environment. Timber, stone, leather and cork feature throughout the office’s surfaces and furnishings, and colours reflect the winter and the Nordic lights. Acoustic panels are covered in fabric depicting patterns from nature and there are plants everywhere as well as a green wall. The office has a variety of lighting, including spotlights desk lamps and pendulum luminaires, and occupants can control the lighting in their individual space to meet their needs. The overall lighting scheme has been designed to support the circadian rhythm, starting with a bright cold blue light in the morning, turning to warmer tones as the day progresses.
We reused 75% of the furniture from the previous office to minimise the environmental impact, having already phased out any materials that may release VOC emissions, with furnishings made from natural textiles such as leather or cotton.
We also paid considerable attention to the sound environment. Sound levels vary, from quiet areas where people can concentrate in silence to more noisy environments which encourage people to talk and cooperate with each other. In the reception area, relaxing music is played in the background, and we’ve observed that many employees choose to work in this space, where they find the atmosphere particularly soothing.
For Castellum, this demonstration of their commitment to the WELL principles is an important part of their brand. By applying WELL to their own workplace, they have the opportunity to experience at first hand the positive effects for their employees and subsequent benefits for their business, as well as demonstrating the opportunities and benefits of providing attractive workplaces that promote health and well-being.