Global Wellness Institute Holds First-Ever Roundtable on Wellness in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries

It’s shocking how human wellness is typically left out of the architecture and design equation: a few professionals have been working in isolated crevices behind the rise of the green movement.

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) is known for its roundtables that bring experts together for honest discussions about the most pressing issues and fastest-growing markets in the wellness industry. And on June 27, the GWI held the world’s first roundtable and forum on how designing for human health and wellness will profoundly transform the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries.

The all-day, invite-only event, held at Steelcase headquarters in NYC, gathered 30 leaders in architecture, engineering, design and investment, from as far away as India and Wyoming. The forum kicked off with a roundtable moderated by Veronica Schreibeis Smith (Chair, GWI’s Wellness Architecture Initiative; founding principal, Vera Iconica Design), and featured experts like Michael Armstrong (CEO, National Council of Architectural Registration Board) and Joanna Frank (Executive Director, Center for Active Design). Presentations followed by Sally Augustin, PhD (Principal, Design with Science) on “Designing, Literally, for Wellbeing”; Paula Baker Laporte, FAIA (Founder, Econest) on “The Reality Behind Designing for Human Health”; and James Brewer (Workspace Consultant, Steelcase) comparing guidelines for the four leaders in wellbeing certification for built environments: Fitwell, LEED, Living Building Challenges and the WELL Building Standard. The day wrapped with workshops on “Defining Wellness Architecture”, “Metrics & Measurability: Quantitative vs. Qualitative” and “Overcoming Industry Hurdles”.

Dozens of critical issues were discussed and debated. What will the future look like when built environments are designed for both human AND environmental health? What is the current state of demand for more wellness design? What are the best evidence-based strategies – and what meaningful results are being reported? How do we properly measure the crucial (yet often subjective) effect environments have on physical and mental well-being? What’s the ethical responsibility to eliminate unhealthy and toxic products and systems…

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