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Wellbeing Special Interest Group

The investment case for wellbeing

Addressing wellbeing across the value chain

The Wellbeing Special Interest Group (WSIG) convenes Partners from across the built environment including development, infrastructure, construction, home-building, and facilities management.  The group’s guiding principle is that we cannot talk about a healthy, climate-resilient, inclusive future without looking at the built environment value chain. This includes materials and how they are manufactured; design principles and construction methods; the experience of those working in manufacturing and construction, as well as that of the end-users; and the impact of the built environment on our communities and eco-systems.

During 2020, led by Claire Bradbury, the WSIG objectives were to: demonstrate the business case for investing in wellbeing; communicate the key trends and implications driving the wellbeing agenda; gather evidence of the impacts of wellbeing investments, where available; and develop School materials that reflect best practice on wellbeing in the built environment value chain.

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2020 showed us the magnitude of consequences when several major crises converge.

The costs to society – in economic, environmental and social terms – of failing to address health and wellbeing are enormous. With COP26 approaching at the end of 2021, our focus is on how the built environment sector can leverage co-beneficial solutions to our global sustainability challenges.

Wellbeing offers an alternative framing of these challenges and it is gaining traction because it is anchored in the human experience. The School’s work on wellbeing was driven by Partners, and the level of interest over the past year shows considerable appetite for proactive, co-beneficial solutions across the supply chain.

2020 Wellbeing Special Interest Group (WSIG) Activities

Establishing a baseline of the industry’s understanding of wellbeing;

Engaging with stakeholders to collect qualitative data on wellbeing risks and opportunities;

Building consensus on the main drivers of wellbeing in the sector;

Mapping wellbeing risk hotspots within the sector;

Synthesising tools and measurement practices; and

Producing guidance on current and emerging good practice to drive maturity on wellbeing through the supply chain.

 

Embedding wellbeing as a core business value makes good business sense

The outcomes that can result from wellbeing interventions include enhanced happiness, resilience, health, performance and productivity

A holistic understanding of wellbeing in the built environment sector is emergent, but not yet mainstream

Action on wellbeing does not need to be complex or expensive; effective interventions can be simple and proportionate and are accessible to businesses of all scales

A flexible approach is important; wellbeing priorities vary across stakeholder groups, projects and sites.

Scaling action on wellbeing across the industry will be enhanced by sharing knowledge; setting out mid to long-term horizons for interventions; and committing to make meaningful investments to track and evaluate progress.

Outputs

In January 2021, the WSIG published a discussion paper, set of case studies, and accompanying graphic.

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The graphic is indicative of a built environment in transition. It points to the need to take a systems approach to wellbeing in the built environment: to design our neighbourhoods and buildings to support ecological and social connectivity, promote green infrastructure for climate resilience, and reduce health inequities.

The Wellbeing SIG reached consensus on five wellbeing principles – Health, Environment, Security, Relationships and Purpose. The group considered that these principles support the themes, priorities and experiences of wellbeing in the built environment industry. In a series of collaborative workshops, the WSIG conducted a heat mapping exercise where each participant was able to grade the importance of each driver. There was considerable convergence around the priorities, demonstrating the shared experience of wellbeing and the possibility that different sectors, whether within or beyond the built environment, can learn from one another. The unifying principle was that wellbeing is about the human experience and, although there may be variation in what each individual needs to thrive day-to-day, the fundamental components are universal.

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The Wellbeing SIG convened representatives from a wide network of Partners, with objectives to: demonstrate the business case for investing in wellbeing; communicate the key trends and implications driving the wellbeing agenda; gather evidence of the impacts of wellbeing investments, where available; and develop School materials that reflect best practice on wellbeing in the built environment value chain.