By Mark Louis F. Ferrolino, Special Features Writer
THE Menarco Tower, located in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), received a WELL Gold certification from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), making it the first and only building in Southeast Asia to secure such kind of certification to date.
The WELL Building Standard measures and monitors the health and well-being of buildings and its occupants. Buildings are certified based on verified and measurable financial outcomes of its tenants such as employees’ productivity in terms of “presenteeism,” medical costs, and task efficiency, among others.
“The WELL Building Standard looks at the different elements within the building, but instead of focusing on green sustainability, we focus on human sustainability,” IWBI Asia Director of Business Development Samantha Allen told BusinessWorld in an interview.
“We see ourselves as two sides of the same equation, we don’t think that you should have one over the other. It’s about piecing it altogether. It is important to take care of both people and the planet,” she added.
A WELL score card is based on seven concepts: optimal indoor air quality, safe and clean water for various uses, availability of fresh wholesome foods for better nourishment, specialized lighting and illumination systems, availability of fitness features and components, comfortable indoor environment, and optimum features that nurture heath for the mind.
Ms. Allen noted that WELL is the culmination of years of rigorous research in collaboration with leading physicians, scientists and industry professionals. The WELL certification is awarded at one of three levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum.
There are only a total of 214 buildings across the globe that have been certified by IWBI, she said. Of this total, 114 were certified gold.
Some of the WELL-centric features and facilities of the Menarco Tower include filtered air circulation, ambient music and natural light in fire staircases, healthy food choices in the food hall, and drinkable tap water.
The first office building project of Menarco Development Corp. is located along 32nd street in BGC.
Menarco Development Corp. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Carmen Jimenez-Ong said in an interview with BusinessWorld that the Menarco Tower is currently the “healthiest” building in Southeast Asia.
“In terms of healthiest, we mean it takes care of the whole person,” she said. “In Menarco Tower, you can be assured that when you are here, you are in the most well-planned, humanity-centered space, where you can do your work best. Anything that comes in here is filtered to a level of cleanliness that, I think, kind of unheard, but it’s necessary because our conditions outside are already less than ideal.”
In 2017, the Menarco Tower was registered with IWBI to secure the WELL certification.
To attain the prescribed standards, Ms. Jimenez-Ong said that the team did some modifications during the building’s construction by installing more air and water filters, among others.
“I realized we were already doing most of the things that were prescribed in the certification. Of course, not as stringent when it comes to air filtration or water filtration, we just had to keep it up,” Ms. Jimenez-Ong said.
Aside from the health benefits of a WELL-certified building, Ms. Allen said that enabling a healthy space helps property developers attract and keep tenants.
“A lot of occupiers that we are speaking to are demanding for healthier workplaces. That’s one of the reasons that we see why developers are pursuing WELL, to attract those tenants and to keep those tenants for a longer period of time,” she said.